Having played together since they were fifteen, Hook & the Twin (multi-instrumentalist Tom Havelock and percussionist Marcus Efstratiou) have developed a wonderful chemistry that seeps through their debut album in all the right ways, creating one of most unique and inviting introductions of the year. While they acknowledge Neu! as a reference point themselves, the ten tracks take a trip through Kraftwerk, New Order and David Byrne, as well as contemporaries such as Tom Vek, the Horrors and Hot Chip. An eclectic group to say the least, at times it feels as though we are just a cowbell short of an LCD Soundsystem track.
Lead single ‘That Was a Day’ is a wonderful, catchy pop song that meanders through five minutes of synths and a repetitive vocal, an indication of what is to come. ‘We’re So Light’ is even better; more lively than its predecessor, with a simple beat and not totally dissimilar from the more radio friendly tunes we’ve come to love from Toro Y Moi. Heavily layered, its processed beats give a perfect base to the harmonious vocals push the duo to their limits and is, unquestionably, the best track on the album. As it progresses, we are treated to a variety of styles. ‘Stone’ is far more chilled out – a lo-fi number that has a gripping hook, ‘Animals’ a blend of 70s punk and retro beats and ‘Bang Bang Cherry’ a dynamic pop song with sharp vocals and a quivering riff that ensures it stands out brilliantly. A skittish and manic tune, it serves as a welcome change of pace on the album and warrants its reputation as the lynchpin of the band’s live shows. ‘They’ll Get Your Head’ is another in this vein, sounding a little like what I imagine the Horrors would do if they had an endless supply of Red Bull.
The album is not without its flaws, however. Lyrically, it is bland in parts. Some songs rely heavily on repetition and, while this is not too much of an issue in parts, it is notable in others. The rhyming scheme is questionable at times and much of the content is baseless. As well as that, ‘Recklessly’ is an unwelcome departure. Slower than the tracks before it, it serves to knock the momentum out of the album and it ambles rather sluggishly over the finish line. The album’s closer ‘Shiver and Jump’ rescues things to a degree with a late return to form, though.
Over three years in the making, Never Ever Ever offers far more than its minimalist album art would suggest. It finds the right balance of accomplished, accessible and fun, with catchy pop songs padded out by genuine substance. Paying homage to all the right people in all the right ways, it should ensure that a lot more people sit up and take note.