Herm – Monsters
On my iPod, Irish band Herm appear just after Hem, the band who released the beautiful ‘Half Acre’, ‘Home Again’ and countless other soft-seeping tunes. Herm, are nothing like Hem. They’re much more upbeat, much livelier. And even more exciting.
Opener ‘The Way’ instantly lets you know what you’re in for, it’s like early U2 in a way, along the lines of ‘I Will Follow’. It’s powerful, a little growly, but never overbearing. Like Boy, Monsters is full of well crafted pop-rock tunes. Single ‘Heads’ was released last month, and has a beautiful riff and a fine “woah-oh” bridge. Everyone has to love those “oh-oh-oh”s, right? It’s intstructive along the lines of cannibalism, like Ainslie Harriott for the Hannibal Lecter generation. It’s rare that a song makes you smile like this one does.
Hugh’s vocals are like E from the Eels, especially on the duet ‘Love Story’. It’s one of the highlights of the album, and has beautiful stringwork accompanying the gorgeously-textured vocals. The title-track ‘Monsters’ is a bar room stomp, with a swampy blues riff. It’s fantastic. If you download one track to sample from the record, make sure it’s this one.
With songs with names like ‘Scab’ and ‘Monsters’, and lyrics about cannibalism, you’d be concerned that this is going to be a metal album, but it’s nowhere near that. It never approaches anything like that. Take the aforementioned ‘Scab’, it’s a dirty little ditty, a menacing brute of a song, but is gentle, like a silent killer. ‘Sofa King’ is another one of those broody songs, and doesn’t go for the obvious pun of the title, which is a huge relief.
The storytelling throughout is excellent, like on ‘Monsters’ and ‘Sofa King’, but also on the tale of the boy called Ray on ‘Cellar Door’. I’m not going to spoil what’s behind the cellar door. You’ll have to listen. More artists should make songs as dark as these.
Songs like ‘Rosemary’, ‘The Long Way Down’, ‘The Best Bit’, and ‘Love Story’ then are much more radio friendly, so it makes it hard to predict where this band go next. If ‘Rosemary’ gets some radio airplay, which it well deserves, it’ll be in that direction, but for me, I prefer the swampiness of some of the more downbeat songs. Even still, wherever they go next, it’s going to be a thrilling ride.
I highly recommend this album, one of the best Irish albums of 2009 so far.