Willow Walk Records (label)
24 March 2014 (released)
06 April 2014
This Love, the debut album from Brighton’s House of Hats is an interesting combination of British folk tropes, Americana and pop nous. That may not seem too appealing but it all hangs together pretty well, with the snaking laid-back tempos that run throughout the album, giving it a Californian vibe. The likes of Fleet Foxes have been mentioned but maybe closer are Nicks/Buckingham early Fleetwood Mac, who were a folk combo before joining the bluesers.
If a times it seems one paced and just too hammocky, these are offset by some more leftfield songs. The album opens with the rousing This Love and followed by Close to Me, which takes a slightly darker route, and great example the band’s talent for harmonies and melodies. The vocals, which are shared between the band’s members, are always striking. What’s also striking is how good it all sounds. Producer Pete Smith has carried off the tricky balance of creating a vibrant sound but not T-cutting it.
Their penchant for vocal harmonies is to the fore on the insistent, string flecked, River’s Will Run. Gold too is a beautifully paced ambling tune rich with harmonies. Gold and the more feral No Man are probably closest to the aforementioned Mac. The more Country inclined Home is Where The Heart Is, and the shuffling Wonderland are welcome as they are slightly out of sync with the rest of the album, and as such welcome. The plaintive This Love closes the album quietly but on a high.
It’s a very strong debut from a band that clearly have bundles of talent all over the place. It’s the harmonies that will stick out for sure but the playing and the arrangements are first class and essential components of their sound.