The journey undertaken by erotic London punks HMLTD to get to the point of releasing their debut album ‘West Of Eden’ would topple most regular bands, but HMLTD are anything but regular.
The long arm of Ronald McDonald’s lawyers led to a name change. Soon after, they were subsequently spat out by the major label system, meaning that the crown of thorns of the ‘next big thing’ tag that once had them touted as the most exciting new band in London had long since been passed about like a spliff at a party.
But this was unlikely to phase a band who, for example, opted to release their video for Proxy Love on PornHub. HMLTD unfurl an art school aesthetic that is part Rocky Horror, part David Devant, all androgynous anarchy.
A sparsely attended Dublin show in The Workman’s Club in October 2017 left us in no doubt that the hype was very much real. But, as the new decade dawns, HMLTD find themselves in a tricky position with ‘West Of Eden’ – seven of its 15 tracks have already been unleashed onto the world and its shock factor is no doubt considerably reduced due to that level of familiarity.
However, tracks such as the glam rodeo To The Door and the maudlin, disco murder balled Satan, Luella & I still sound fresh three years on. In the interim, HMLTD have evolved out of their often Sultans of Ping FC-esque rumblings and it’s easy to see why which material from their original burst into the public eye did and didn’t make it onto ‘West Of Eden’.
The West Is Dead opens the album like a blowback in space and time from Primal Scream’s ‘EXTRMNTR’, before Loaded unfurls in an industrial EDM whirlwind. The otherworldly murmur of Why?, even for the kitchen-sink nature of HMLTD, is a peculiar outlier and the album’s ‘What the fuck?’ moment, which, in and of itself, is saying something.
The one-two of Joanna, Where’s Joanna? moves from imaginary music-box murder mystery to cataclysmic sea shanty with ease. With the innumerable genre jumps and wild mood swings such as these, ‘West of Eden’ certainly isn’t for the faint of heart and will confound many. Though there is lots to admire about many of the individual songs, it is a lot to take in one sitting. But what else would you expect from one of the more interesting bands of the last five years?