Album Review Heaven Street SevenSordid Little Symphonies 48Mins 24Secs

 

Magneton 5144 – 21294-2

2007

 

www.hs7.hu

www.myspace.com/hs7

 

Hungarian band Heaven Street Seven or ‘HS7’ for short were the support band for The Church on the 2007 European Tour except for Brighton, with their Keyboard player also guesting on ‘Grind’ during The Church’s set.

 

As I was usually busy flyering and putting a positive spin on the merits of going to Hengelo when they were playing I missed most of their sets which I now regret having had the chance to hear the current album (which was available from the Merch stall) and really enjoying it. In Utrecht the live mix was fed through to speakers in the front lobby and to their credit I thought it was a CD such was the tightness of the band. They have an abundance of melodic hooks, uncomplicated arrangements, a sense of fun and a danceable groove to most of their stuff making them an ideal support – able to make an immediate impression without taxing the audience’s imagination. What is surprising is that looking into their history, including a slot as support for REM amongst others, this is not a new band – despite their energy levels, enthusiasm and age (like Policemen bands look younger and younger these days). They are actually an established act in their homeland and a glance at their discography shows a list of releases including some with Hungarian lyrical content. The album ‘Sordid Little Symphonies’ feels like a debut as well, not naive or under achieved but fresh and energetic, maybe it is a watershed album where they connect with a wider audience.

 

Opening track ‘Fever’ is a very promising start quickly getting to the big anthemic chorus. The bright blips and bleeps of keyboard give it a contemporary feel against the harsher guitar making for a distinctive fusion, a sound of their own.

 

Do The Prick’ is again unsubtle, switching from the direct surging verse to slick catchy chorus with its bright 70’s disco-like qualities.

 

The Flow’ starts like it could be a ‘Remote Luxury’ / ‘Séance’ out-take. The memorable, “The stars drink with the roadies, the roadies groove with the groupies, the groupies star in the movies and that’s how history’s made” chorus (believe me it hooks better than it reads here), backed by rich jangling guitar, a crisp acoustic and hardworking rhythm section help this to become instantly appreciable to a Church fan. This particular style shows a link to The Church’s sound and suggests at least a respect.

 

No Sad Song’ is fine, a little cleaner and less dynamic but a welcome variant on their sound, expressing another strong vocal melody and allowing it to breathe as the focal point.

 

Spoilsport’ maintains an impressive intensity and drags you in with its all-consuming surge and even throws in a ‘na-na-na-na’ part crying out for audience participation. Rounded off with a piano outro, it’s been an impressive attention grabbing song, muscular yet flexible.

 

Frances’ starts with more unorthodox Keyboard before launching into another catchy chorus in a song with a fun swagger, loose unrestrained playing and vocals combing to sound quite a lot like ‘Orson’ with a similar bold direct approach and feel good factor.

 

Heaven Only Knows’ was the instant stand out, a strong vocal melody, delicately played verses and a surge into the chorus. Maybe it’s the squeaky keyboards winning a Marillion fans' vote but everything about this track works, combining fresh accurate sounds with live intensity. It would sit alongside any ‘Best of 2007’ compilation tracks with comfort and even stand out.

 

Highlights ‘Heaven Only Knows’, ‘Spoilsport’, ‘Frances’, ‘Fever’ and ‘The Flow’ are part of the particularly strong opening barrage and make for a great introduction to the band.

 

Really What You Are’, or ‘The Crystal Set One’, as I find myself calling it, from the vocal melody, use of backing vocals and bright feel-good projection, you can just picture one of those dreamy ‘Summer day on Bondi Beach’ set promo videos to accompany it. Ends with the ringing tones of a live sudden finish.

 

Smudgy Winter Morning’, features a harsh jump from piano based opening to big loud chorus. One that you’d probably need to witness live to fully appreciate.

 

Oh Walter’ with a curious (gargling!) opening, the verses verge on dub reggae then it slips into a more orthodox bright chorus – again it’s that fresh approach and inclusion of danceable rhythms that makes them a more attractive proposition than more claustrophobic one dimensional guitar bands. Swirling squeaky synthesizer lifts it further, particularly well underpinned by the intensifying sound, it’s the brave marriage of a very good live band and modern fresh production styles that makes these tracks able to sit in both indie / alternative and pop camps and with so many big choruses and potential singles there’s no reason they couldn’t be marketed in a similar way to the likes of the previously mentioned Orson and achieve similar success with the same kind of audience.

 

Faith Test’ is fine, if a little less distinctive whilst ‘L.I.A.R’ is a lot more relaxed and again groove based. It brings variety to the album, placed here as the last track it acts as a wind down, had it been placed mid-album it may have scuppered the flow (no pun intended) but works well as a closer.

 

Although not ‘similar’ to The Church there are reference points that suggest mutual respect and it’s highly surprising that such an easily marketable set of catchy songs is still little known to the masses, especially as they’re a nice bunch of guys who are putting in the hard work and mileage to promote it.