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Review: 'Hora Douse / Mannequin Death Squad'
'Hyde Park Book Club, 8th October 2017'   

-  Genre: 'Indie'

Our Rating:
When did Hyde Park Book Club gain several rooms including a basement gig space? Lined with bare chip-lined walls and with brutal strip-lighting illuminating the whiteness that covers the rest of the space, it has a weird, unfinished appearance.

It looks a lot better when the house lights are off and the stage lighting, simple but functional as it is, is on. Crywank is playing in a solo iteration for tonight: one guy with a guitar, long hair, spindly legs, and backwards baseball cap, nervously talks a lot and plays some gently touching and intensely personal songs. He has a nice picking style and a great voice, and he uses them to convey just how much he aches, how much he’s anguished, as he pours self-loathing. It’s raw, intimate, and compelling.

Peach have a nice illuminated thing on stage with their name on, so you know they are. It’s perhaps the most remarkable thing about them: the trio’s brand of melodic alt-rock is solid but unspectacular.

It’s the last night of Mannequin Death Squad’s tour, and it seems fitting that they’re playing Leeds alongside Hora Douse, given that the two featured together just a fraction over a year ago on the Australia duo’s first UK tour. I’m beginning to wonder how many times I’ll be forced to remark that they get better every time I see them, as it seems that however awesome they are, they’re endlessly capable of upping their game.

It’s this attitude and ability that sees them winning over crowds every time, invariably ending sets with more down the front than at the start, and deservedly shifting merch.

Things are running behind schedule and they’ve only got half an hour, but rather than truncate their set, they play the songs faster. Consequently, ‘Sick’ is a blurred rush that’s even more attacking and exhilarating than ever, and ‘Van Gough’ blasts in at a crazy fast tempo. Yet none of the detail is lost, with the airy woo-hoos soring over the full-throated abrasion, and when Elle switches the guitar for the drum stool, the force and aggression with which the hits the skins is something else. They benefit from a decent mix: the drums are up to the fore, the guitar at once crisp and dense, with the bottom end filling out the sound well. The first UK airing of ‘Addicted to You’ is truly thunderous, and gives a further indication of what we can expect from the debut album next year. Meanwhile, they’re leaving these shores on a high.

Tonight represents something of a return for Hora Douse – as it seems is often the case, with their activity being sporadic at best, on account of geography. But for a band who don’t get to rehearse much, they’re tight. A strong, fierce, rumbling bass and up-front drums (a clean, uncluttered style) propel the alt-rock trio’s driving sound. It’s high-octane, high-energy all the way, and what’s more, they look like they’re enjoying themselves: consequently, they are, as ever, entertaining and a joy to watch.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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