Jonathan Markwood's Hoo-Hah Conspiracy, Psychoacusis - album review
Shrewsbury's Jonathan Markwood's Hoo-Hah Conspiracy pull off a pretty decent trick on this new record.
Psychoacusis manages to combine their slightly off-kilter, edgy identity with the mainstream feel of the 90s Britrock scene that spawned bands like Dodgy and Squeeze and later influenced artists like Beck and Eels to create jagged, easy-going guitar tracks.
Markwood, the actor and singer who has tasted triumphs in various art forms, is their intelligent and friendly conductor. It feels like a lot of the music here is a tunnel into his mind filled with sun rays and Teletubbies and candy floss.
That feeling of warmth is prevalent in a lot of the music. The upbeat tempo and writing is a pleasing antithesis to the 'serious' a lot of bands come up with these days. Take the track Claire, the day trip tempo of the percussion, piano and Markwood's vocals is neither threatening nor heavy. Tracks like this with a beer at a sun-kissed festival would be a real treat.
There's a lot going on behind him in an understated fashion too. Vocals aside, there's no real competing for prevalence between any of the Conspiracy musicians - the sign of a band comfortable with each other and working together for a greater good rather than showboating.
The fun-time funk of Motorbike Mona is a song where the band look to be contrasting in the verses before locking fingers and uniting for another soaring chorus together.
Marlana Maid of Plastic does this again. It encompasses one of those indie-pop fluffy choruses that made the likes of The Feeling so huge in the 00s, but with none of the annoying tendencies those acts carried as baggage.
The Specials vibes pumping through Nicky Narcissus give us one track where things do darken slightly, but then the plucking banjo kicks in to remind us we're all supposed to be having fun here and this is a temporary reprieve.
This record is needed in such politically and socially uncertain times. It reminds us all to take a step back, cool our heads and lighten up a little. So we owe the Hoo-Hah Conspiracy a great big 'thank you' for their trouble.
The album will be available from the band's website. They will perform at Party in the Park in Whitchurch on June 8 and return to their hometown of Shrewsbury for BluFest on July 14.West Midlands music fans can catch them at Tamworth's Warton Music Festival on July 20, before they head into Wales for Funk In The Forest in Welshpool on July 27.