After a relatively long wait from its creation until now, Hassall’s first solo LP under his own name is released to the wide world. We interviewed the guys in a piece that came out a few days ago where we learned of the band’s inception and their experiences recording and touring, it was very evident however that this was a band and not just a solo album from the past and current member of The Libertines – a band so loved and revered that fans are very eagerly awaiting to hear anything from its members.
“Wheels to Idyll” is a very complete record that hangs together very well indeed. From its opener, “Sun In The Afternoon”, straight out of the gate – you know it’s an album that is going to be pretty mellow and pleasant. The record is a modern take on what a solid record might sound like in the colorful 1960s – more specifically in swinging London. For fans hoping to hear jarring and challenging indie/punk, you’ll be looking elsewhere. Highlights are the upbeat “Whether Girl” and the soft-rock tinted “Mosey Through My Mind” as well as the two singles we’ve heard (“Intercity 125 and “Given Time”)
Each song is well crafted and executed with no real surprises among the sunny vibes committed to tape by Kalle Gustafsson (of Soundtrack Of Our Lives) in his analogue setting in Gothenburg, Sweden – however again, the overall vibe is very consistent and not overbaked or too retro, as a huge chunk of this type of music might be. There are flecks and moments that you could be forgiven for believing Hassall is heavily into the Beatles – but who isn’t, right? No penalties for that my friends!
Aside from Hassall’s own pen, there are contributions performed and written by band members – “Julie July” (Jakob Bruno) and “If I Die We All Die” (James Jefferys) – both tracks that while being written and lead by other members of the band, don’t stick out as inconsistent at all. They were both apparently selected by Hassall himself from the otherwise productive band members in their own stead – having appeared on previously released titles by the guys.
Hassall comes across as a tenderly nice guy on the recordings – much as he seems in real life. Pensive, quiet, and not one to mince words. His singing voice is not the strongest in the world, but welcoming and warm all the same, like an old friend or at least someone you want to know. The record is a quick trip through the mind and life of what sounds like a good person. There’s no hint of foul play or malice – instead, you are on a summer holiday or a picnic on a spring day with some mates and guitars. Harmonies emphasize their togetherness and the wistfulness of the material. The band and its leader perform the tunes perfectly. “Wheels” is a nice place to be for a while for damn sure.
Even though the record took a long time to get out (3 years?), I’d say it’s well worth the wait and a very solid debut from a great band. Naturally, it’s a much-anticipated piece of wax from one of our cherished local residents. I’d love to hear them play these happy tunes on a sunny day here in the city of smiles – it’s definitely something that you can imagine your mom and dad getting down to too – nobody’s going to be disappointed with this record, I can tell you that.
“Wheels To Idyll” is out today – follow John Hassall & The April Rainers on Facebook etc. for updates on shows and more.
John Hassal & The April Rainers have released a very complete debut album. Nobody's going to be dissapointed with this one! (4/6)