Saturday, 15 September 2012

Album review: CALL THE DOCTOR - Hands Will Shake

Highlights: Closer To Home, For Your Pleasure, Take It Out, Little Bones

You don’t even need to know that Call The Doctor was the name of Sleater-Kinney’s second album (1996) to get it: Call The Doctor are like Blondie and Sleater-Kinney rolled into one. And that’s the sort of combination you just can’t say no to. Hands Will Shake is catchy, exciting indie rock music that eschews the riot grrrl aesthetics for irresistible pop-punk sensibilities.

Hands Will Shake is a bit like The Bangles if The Bangles had more substance and edge. The guitars sound juicy and tasteful all through the record – whether they’re doing infectious pop-punk anthems (“Wrecking Ball”) or slightly mellower, more atmospheric stuff (“Stood Beside Her”). Though it is definitely the former category where the main excitement lies. Propulsive head-bangers like “Closer To Home” and “Take It Out” are unforgettable, and “Seventeen” beats Sex Pistols’ version by some distance.

Stylistically, there’s very little variation here, and one might find Hands Will Shake somewhat grating after song 5, but the songs are all good. In fact, the only lapse of taste I could detect was the dumb chorus (actually the only moment with male vocals) in the otherwise terrific “Flaws” (irony). The lengthy, multi-part “Little Bones” that closes the album is a clear highlight, though, with the intriguing final chant “I was told I would never be a pilot, I was told I would never be part of it” that sounds a lot greater than it reads.  

Great, confident songwriting makes Hands Will Shake a gutsy, hook-filled gem.


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