Holy Moly And The Crackers - 'Take A Bite' Album Review
1. All I Got Is You
2. Upside Down
3. Can’t Get Enough
4. Kiss Me Before You Go
6. I’d Give It All
7. Take A Bite
8. Through With Talking
9. Who Do You Think You Are?
10. Naked In Budapest
11. This Little Light
Holy Moly And The Crackers are not only one of the freshest breaths of air in the industry but they are also one of the nicest group of nutters that you are likely to meet. Humble to the core, and loyal to their ever growing fan base, they always deliver. 'Take A Bite' comes hard on the heals of one of the busiest years for one of the UK's hardest working bands. Last year they had a lot of success from their second album 'Salem'. Including having 'Cold Comfort Lane' on the end credits of Ocean 8. They had the usual festival appearances, but also had a very successful headline UK Tour. So I am not sure how they fitted in the time to lay down tracks for their third album.
'Take A Bite' is much anticipated and draws me to a previous statement I have made about the folksters from Newcastle. This album is the same but different. You can tell it's a HM&TC album, but it is distinctly different from both 'Salem' and their debut album, 'First Avenue'.
The first single 'All I Got Is You' kicks off proceedings. This is an uplifting song about an imperfect couple that are perfect for each other, which is full of fun. Ruth's powerful vocal is contrasted by Conrad's soft backing vocals. There is a real tenderness throughout the opener. The second single, 'Upside Down' follows, which although having a similar high tempo, has more dramatic instrumentation with Tommy's pounding percussion. The chorus as about as catchy as you can get with the lyrics 'You're only happy, You're only happy, you're only happy when your upside down'. The fiddle in this is infectious. You would have to be dead if you didn't start moving to this, and even then, rigour mortis would have had to have set in. You can see that these tracks are aimed for radio play, and they would attract even more people into the HM&TC's clan. 'Who Do You Think You Are' also fits into this category, however, it is more akin to the style we have grown to love. The use of the vocal delivery to match the rhyme of the backing music is a technique the band have used before to great affect, but this time it is delivered with a harder edge.
There is more of a Rock vibe with this album, which showcases Ruth's vocals and proves that HM&TC could never be labelled one trick ponies. 'Sister' starts off with a sublime catchy Rock guitar riff from Nick. There are smidgens of fuzz and distortion, which are used to great effect sparsely. Although this is the rockiest that they have been, there is still room for Con's trumpet and of course Rosie's squeezebox. Nick lays down more catchy guitar riffs and this is very different to previous numbers but I like it. I like it a lot, as it proves that Ruth can tackle anything. 'Through With Talking' also has a catchy Rock guitar riff and crashing cymbals. Ruth's vocal is full of swagger especially in the chorus, 'Through with talking , cos I, cos I, cant get through to you. Towards the end Con adds menacing vocals, supporting the sentiment, with more than a passing nod to Grunge.
There is more than enough on the album to satisfy the HM&TC faithful, with delicious Folk and clever lyrics. 'Can’t Get Enough' has a simple understated arrangement and killer lines such as, 'You say that a kiss is all in the lips, you better think again, it comes from the hips'. It has a hippy 60's feel to it , but then an accordion and fiddle are thrown in. This is uplifting and breezy. 'Kiss Me Before You Go' is as typical an HM&TC as you will find. Rosie's squeezebox is ever present and Con sings more of the vocals than on other tracks. Tommy's typical frenzied percussion, is driven with Jamie's bass. The band are as tight as a drum as the rhythm bounces along. This is probably the most complex and layered track on the album, and it shows what a talented group of musicians HM&TC are. If you have seen them live then you would have no doubt and this will be crowd pleaser played live. The title track, 'Take A Bite' is full of eastern promise with its use of cymbals, repetitive drum beat and hanging guitar chords. Again the whole band are involved in the track, and it is multi-layered and complex with tempo changes. HM&TC have always taken inspiration from world music and have woven it into their music. 'Naked In Budapest' with it's high tempo cascading intro leads onto Con's vocal full of gravel and devilment. This song is full of mischief and catchy hooks.
'I’d Give It All' is a beautiful ballad and slows the tempo so much it would stop any manic crowd in it's tracks as it demands to be savoured note by delicious note. Ruth comes into her own on this through her sweet vocal and violin. The simple piano accompaniment makes you focus on Ruth's voice. The album closes with another deviation from previous songs. 'This Little Light' is jazzy and breezy. It is a simple song with a Bossa Nova beat. It reminds me of a Kirsty McColl like number, and the flourish of tambourine, is a perfect end to this slice of perfection.
I have always felt that Holy Moly And The Crackers, are an inclusive band. They don't care if you are young or old, black or white, Hippy or Goth. If you are up for a whole lot of fun, and respect others for doing the same then your name's on the list and you are invited to the party. By the same token fans of HM&TC should expect the band to evolve and experiment. They may have taken a gamble, after the success of 'Salem', to put out an album with a different formulae. That's evolution for you though, and evolution should take the what is now and make it better. I feared that Holy Moly And The Crackers would not be able to improve on 'Salem', but they have. It seems like they have truly found themselves, and this is a mature album where they have thrown in Rock, Soul, Indie, Psychedelia and a pinch of Eastern spice. The result is the release of an uplifting album that puts a smile on you face that ordinary day to day life will take weeks to wipe off. It seems an insult to give this 5 stars, but 5 stars are all I have. Shhhhh don't tell anyone but I would give this a rating of 7 out of 5 as I think this is album of the year 2019.
Take A Bite is released on April 5th on Pink Lane Records.
Website - http://www.holymolyandthecrackers.com/
Review - Tony Creek