Hey Sholay – ((O))

Whooooomp. That’s the sound of pop turning from dreamy to drone to shoegaze and back again (just like The Hobbit). It’s all the (un)distorted sound left resonating in the recesses of your mind after ‘Golden is the colour of the Sun (Run Rabbit Run)’, the fantastically trippy closing track of this conspicuously heavy slice of pop.

Make no mistake: Hey Sholay pretend to be pop rock, but are something else altogether ( I suspect a Mighty Jagaroth!). By all means, they should be playing pop, but what you end up is something entirely different. Think of them of a Sudoku disguised as a game of Tic Tac Toe. That’s how devious the changes in genre are in this album, ((O)). In other words: what might appear to be a glass of red wine is actually a Shandy mixed with cranberry liquor.

Things start dreamy and fluffy with ‘Wishbone (wish wish wish)’, the song bubbling away until the decisively heavy sounds prick the bubbles at the same time, just like Bub and Bob Dragon burst bubbles filled with enemies and candy! No wonder this song lends name to the ale they created with The Brew Co. as it defines the taste and consistency of the band: conspicuously tasty. ‘My blood’ is a strange choice for a single, not because of the song per se, but the length (5 minutes!). Mind you, it’s a very breezy quintet of minutes, extremely ethereal and dreamy. ‘Go easy tiger’ is far more poppier, but still enjoyable, like a good ol’ 70s pop song (you know, the ones with a lot of ambient stuff).

Now, let’s talk about some of the golden classics found here, and by that I mean songs that were previously released on (allegedly cursed) pink tapes and singles. ‘Dreamboat’ changes pace a bit, with the delectable opening riffs feeling a bit stripped down (aw!) but the rock and roll quiff still being sported. ‘The Bees, the bears, the clocks’ slight differences might jar at first (especially if you are too obsessed with the previous version, oops!) but once the deliciously psychodelic drone ending starts ingraining itself like a mantra in your psyche, you become a convert. A fan can like a certain version of a song, but, ultimately, it’s the band’s decision if they want to re-record (or not) one.

For a long time, I believed that ‘Burning’ and ‘Bleeding (a brand new start)’ where one and the same. I still believe so, but I prefer the ‘Burning’ regeneration as much as I prefer Jon Pertwee to Sylvester McCoy‘s Doctor. Of all those previous tracks Hey Sholay had, ‘Ol’ Nick’ is probably the one that has changed the most, becoming a tighter beast, much more leaner and ready for the fight (for your attention).

Now, ‘Shut the devil at the backdoor / a day in the country, Berlin’ is where I will split hairs like a stupid fanboy from hell that I am. I prefer the original version of ‘Devil at the backdoor’ because of the mournful, sorrowful singing at the beginning BUT I’ll admit that this new version feels like the one with more endurance for the race. It’s certainly a powerful punch of a track and it’s undeniably a gem of a track (best one of the album, maybe?). Mind you, the ultimate version of ‘Devil at the backdoor’ will ALWAYS be the live version, because Hey Sholay‘s energy can never be fully captured on recording (think of it as the ultimate energon cube).

Hey Sholay‘s debut, bracket bracket hug bracket bracket (that’s ((O)) if you didn’t get it) is certainly a solid as granite album. 9 songs, not a single one to throw away, a cohesive release that allows both pop moments (‘Dreamboat’) and psychedelic experimentation (the dreamy ‘Golden is the colour of the sun (run rabbit run)’). Now, the question remains: what happened to their rabbit? And will Onslaught sue them for doughnut thievery?

Words: Sam J. Valdés López.

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