“Hey lads, did you hear Mumford’s new track? They’ve ditched the banjos – what the f*** are we gonna do now?” Ok, perhaps the pre-‘Wilder Mind’ crises meeting that I’m envisaging in Heroes In Hiding HQ didn’t go exactly like that – hell, who am I to say these guys even enjoyed the aristocratic tweed and blue-collar banjo revivalism of the London quartet?
Still, Heroes In Hiding’s debut EP certainly sounded like its creators pulled out ‘Sigh No More’ one to many times. A hodgepodge of mediocre pop-folk fretwork, forgettable melodies and anonymous vocals, ‘Hush’ threw the blandest faces of indie music into one radio-friendly blender and prayed for a miracle.
While that miracle never happened, there was the odd shard of light. Smoke Signals’ spectral falsetto motifs and Bruises’ gritty guitars and delicate xylophone interplay showcased what the Dublin outfit were at their most capable when waving goodbye to a pop-folk ship that had since sailed into the welcoming arms of Avicii and his dungeon of EDM torment.
In a recent interview with Musician.ie, band member Liam McCabe claimed that since the release of their debut EP, the outfit have found themselves experimenting with electronic music and writing more as a collective. It’s a claim verified by ‘Decorated Absence’s’ first track, Today, I Mean It, where a looped vocal sample hovers beneath a warm, loose guitar riff. Vocalist, Joe Carroll, also seems to have found his voice. Casanova, the EP’s centrepiece, showcases the vocalist’s newfound ability to convey both fragility and strength with a likable and unique timbre.
Though the EP’s closer, Lay Down In The Fire, threatens a retreat to the band’s old ways, it soon changes tact towards a driving, radio-ready hook. If Heroes In Hiding’s debut was the sound of a band struggling to find footing in a sea of pseudo-folk imitators, its successor is a brief, but enjoyable showcase of a band slipping into their alt-indie groove.