The Hydrothermal Vents: Secrets of the Deep Album Review
Montreal duo The Hydrothermal Vents (another new band, another name you have to read twice to actually make sense of) joined together in the hopes of making real, honest dance music. And I don’t mean the thumping, head-crushing EDM that populates clubs in holiday destinations- I mean real, B52s, Talking Heads, music that makes you want to get up and dance in an entirely unironic way. John Tielli and Tessa Kautzman are keen to bring post-punk into the 21st century, throwing all they’ve got at brisk, passionate songs that claim to bring retro sounds to achingly modern music. So we’ve tracked down Secrets of the Deep, the first album from the the first pair named after a geological phenomena. Released earlier this month, it precipitates a North America tour and makes a big, brash, glittery statement about what exactly this pair intened to be.
The standout track is, without a doubt, Neptune’s Grave. That guitar has Franz Ferdinand all over it, while the shared click of male/female vocals steers clear of basement-level love balladry. You can hear the post-punk influence in that crisp, straightforward delivery and the self-referential angst. To me, this is entirely what dance music should be about- the kind of song you’d put on at a party where no-one could agree on the music. Crowd-pleasing without pandering, it’s a prime way to step into their album.
I’m a sucker for music with a good riff. I’m simple that way So give me something like Do The Vent, built around a borderline Rock-Lobster guitar jam and meshed with the appropriate sound effects, and you’re onto a win. Chucking an instrumental track into a pop album is a brave move, but their sheer bloody-minded confidence makes it difficult to begrudge them. And can we talk about the bass for a second? Underpinning whole tracks, it’s best displayed in tracks like Shark!, a thumpingly appreciative salute to vocal harmony and dissonant guitars.
But that’s not to say they can’t pull off the slower stuff too- Hanz brings together two very accomplished vocalists with the same kind of gritty, sandpapery vocals with the exploited potential to rise into beautiful highs in a song that’s entirely focused on their chemistry. It’s the same kind of musical synergy (yes, I used that word and I won’t apologise for it) they display on album opener Fish Out of Land-pushed forward by a polished, bass-driven beat, matching their vocal harmonies point-for-point with hooks that cunningly don’t sound like hooks.
Out of Ten: 8
Best Tracks: Fish Out of Land, Neptune’s Grave
Listen to If: You want fun, guitar-driven pop that’s as shamelessly fun as it is meticulous.
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