HMLTD at The Workman’s Club, Dublin on Friday the 6th of October 2017
Let’s face it, there’s an elephant in the room that nobody is willing to talk about and that is the fact that the majority of music stars today are boring. The charts are predominantly beige; the acts themselves are more often than not hollow facsimiles of the popstar trope, afraid to say anything controversial, and the songs, well they often come flatpack assembled from Sweden.
HMLTD – shortened from Happy Meal Ltd to keep certain supersized lawyers at bay – on the other hand are a beige bunker-buster of ravenous energy intent on returning glitz, glamour, innuendo and intrigue to the music scene. Taking their cues from a wide array of acts such as David Bowie, Carter USM and Sisters of Mercy; there is also a striking similarity to the Sultans of Ping – though this is probably unbeknownst to the band themselves. These cues are reflected in both sound and vision with HMLTD understanding that what you say is almost as important as the way you look saying it.
Tonight the band has the perfect balance between aesthetic, noise and art. HMLTD ringmaster Henry Spychalski dons outrageous high-waisted trousers and bright red hair – likewise, his bandmates are dressed to impress. He swirls around The Workman’s stage like an androgynous jester possessed by a poltergeist, narrowly avoiding his bandmates as he sashays across the stage with wild, unruly movements.
Musically, HMLTD are just as unruly – fastidiously loud, the ear-splitting cacophony of glam laced with EDM and other sonic chemicals. Opening track What You Wanted is frankly overwhelming, the crowd hesitant as they assess what lies before them. Spychalski coaxes them in with Apple and by the time he treats the crowd to some Proxy Love it’s clear to see that HMLTD deserve the hype.
Kinkaku-ji and Music solidify this, oscillating wildly between split-pop personalities with verve, Spychalski pushing his body and voice to the limits as the band weave frantic jagged riffs, Nick Cave-esque bass grooves, 8-bit plings and motorik beats.
In any other context and for any other band, having a song called Satan, Luella and I be your most accessible number would be bizarre, but for HTMLD, naturally, it’s their anthemic sing-along masterpiece – a perfect baroque pop vehicle designed to inflame and enthral in equal measure.
Other highlights include To The Door, which is propelled by a spaghetti western style guitar riff. In essence this is HMLTD’s attempt at an Apache (Get On It) style track, only fucked up obviously. Unreleased track Death Drive sees HMLTD take aim at America in venomous fashion.
Undeterred by broken guitar strings and sound issues that only the band themselves could notice, Stained finishes out the show in epic fashion building slowly from lurching guitar stabs into a growling psych rock affair, before an unexpected turn sees HMLTD unleash a blistering EDM assault on the senses.
This is what Todd Haynes’ cult glam rock movie Velvet Goldmine (1998) should have looked and sounded like. HMLTD are the real deal. Don’t miss a chance to see them.