The Guilty Hands - 'Desire On A Short Leash' (UK Release: 14 Feb '11)
Apparently The Guilty Hands raised £15,000 through the website slicethepie.com to record 'Desire On A Short Leash', the London trio's debut album. That's a pretty remarkable effort considering the tight-fisted nature of today's music fans. Although £15,000 seems like a lot for an independent release. Has it been money well spent? I'm inclined to say yes.
At face value, The Guilty Hands are just another electro-rock band yet 'Desire On A Short Leash' reaches much, much further. Employing a similar "chop pop" approach to the wonderful Clock Opera, there are all kinds of different instruments and samples on this album. While this is an admirably gutsy move which largely pays off, the lyrical melodrama can be difficult to digest.
The band have constructed a dark, "cutting-edge" identity for themselves, which particularly manifests itself in their pretentious lyricism. Which confusingly appears alongside more mundane themes such as on the sexual anthem 'Guilty Hands'. It was around track #9, 'Up On The Hill (No. 42)', about a suspected paedophile being burnt alive in his car, where I begun to feel the lyrical strain. Then 'Meat' followed, pushing me over with its utterly ridiculous refrain of "Give me meat".
But lyrics are rarely the focal point of my attention in music - I'm more concerned about melodies. And The Guilty Hands know their way around ear-catching melodies, even on the aforementioned weaker tracks. There are vocal hooks aplenty, with thrilling opening track 'Razor' being a particular highlight. The more acoustic-led 'Wilder Shores Of Love', 'Silent Partner' and 'Black Doves' have a beautifully operatic pop feel, reminiscent of Grammatics, a direction I hope the band pursue on their next album.
It would be cruel to greatly punish The Guilty Hands for their lyrical misdemeanours because 'Desire On A Short Leash' is an ambitious debut album, successfully transgressing several genres, moving seamlessly from eighties inspired electro to the glitchy stylings of 65DaysOfStatic. It perhaps falls a little short of meeting its lofty melodramatic ambitions but this is an impressive effort regardless.
STREAM: The Guilty Hands - Razor
MP3 DOWNLOAD: The Guilty Hands - The Collector by facultydigital
Purchase 'Desire On A Short Leash' at amazon.co.uk, iTunes etc. Visit theguiltyhands.com for further info.