The Hours: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish


RIYL: Pulp, Coldplay, The Wonder Stuff

To call It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish a debut album is technically true, but a bit misleading. In truth, it’s a Franken-album, culling the best moments from the Hours’ first two, import-only albums, 2006’s Narcissus Road and 2009’s See the Light, plus one new track (two if you buy the deluxe edition). Still, debut* album or not, it’s a doozy, filled with sky-high chorus after sky-high chorus, gorgeous octave-jumping piano lines and one of the most optimistic lyric books you’ll find outside of Christian pop (or Howard Jones). On the opening track “Ali in the Jungle,” better known here as the soundtrack to Nike’s “Human Chain” ad, speaks of how “everybody gets knocked down / How quick are you gonna get up?” In “These Days,” singer Antony Genn (think Miles Hunt of the Wonder Stuff, with better pipes) advises us, “If there’s ever a time we need to come together, the time is now.” In “Icarus,” he opines that “If you don’t shoot, then you don’t score.” They’re not deep statements, but they resonate in conjunction with the music.

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The band admittedly runs at two main speeds. There are the upbeat, chugging skyscrapers like “Big Black Hole,” “Narcissus Road” and “Ali in the Jungle,” and there are the showstopping ballads like “Back When You Were Good” (a very gutsy song title in a snarky world) and the splendid “Come On.” The big exception to this is the closer “See the Light,” a slow-building, two-chord track in the vein of Pulp’s “Common People.” It’s arguably the best song here, though a thousand lashes to the person who decided to edit it down from its original seven-minute glory. This is beautiful stuff across the board, but a quick note to Genn: the people most likely to buy your music probably have kids, so let’s cut back a bit on the ‘F’ bombs, shall we? It’s unbecoming. (Adeline 2010)

The Hours MySpace page

  

The Hours: Ali in the Jungle EP


RIYL: The Wonder Stuff, The Verve, Pulp

We love when good things happen to good bands. The Hours quietly released one of 2009’s finest albums with the sky-high See the Light, and someone at Nike clearly took notice, because the band’s 2006 single “Ali in the Jungle” just scored the company’s recent “human chain” ad, which ran roughly one kajillion times during the Winter Olympics. The song is a killer, with one of those instantly memorable choruses that will serve as the soundtrack for sports montages for generations to come. “Everybody gets knocked down / How quick are you gonna get up?” challenges singer Antony Genn in his Miles Hunt-like tenor, complemented by a punchy piano riff. The EP is short, a mere four tracks – and one of those tracks is an orchestral version of the title track – hence the mere three-and-a-half-star rating, but perhaps they are planning a more proper US release for See the Light later in the year (one song from the album, “These Days,” can be found here), after its brief availability as a download last year. One can only hope, anyway. British pop fans, get this while the getting is good. (Hickory Records 2010)

The Hours MySpace page
Click to buy Ali in the Jungle from Amazon

  

The Hours: See the Light

They would surely bristle at the idea that their songs are of the throwback variety, but the simple fact is that there aren’t many, if any, bands writing the kind of music that propels See the Light, the magnificent new album by UK duo (or is it septet?) the Hours. Singer Antony Genn’s phrasing recalls Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt (though Genn is a much better singer), and the songs are flat-out skyscrapers, gorgeous piano-driven epics that put the ‘wide’ in widescreen. “Come On” uses seven words to create one of the catchiest choruses you’ll hear this year, while the seven-minute title track is a brilliant, two-chord slow burner, like a mid-tempo version of Pulp’s “Common People” (which is fitting, since Genn is a Pulp alumnus). There is a lyrical gaffe here and there – “The Girl Who Had the World at Her Feet” opens with the line “The cash cow is heading for the slaughterhouse,” ugh – but such bits come with the territory, and their damage is minimal. Don’t be surprised if these guys become a very big deal in a very short amount of time. (IsGoodLtd 2009)

The Hours MySpace page
Click to buy See the Light

  

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