Kill Hannah

Wake Up The Sleepers

Written by: TL on 24/10/2009 18:14:15

Admittedly, when I signed up to review Kill Hannah's new album "Wake Up The Sleepers", I did what any sane rock fan would do. I expected it to be utter trash. In case you're unsure of why I would assume such a thing, I guess you don't know much about Kill Hannah, so let me introduce them. The Chicago four piece exploded into the awareness of the general population with the single "Lips Like Morphine" of their previous (5th) album "Until There's Nothing Left Of Us", and introduced themselves as a sort decadent eletro/rock/pop group with outrageous getups that borders on visual kei. Of course, hordes of made-up scene girls immediately jumped their bandwagon, and since then Kill Hannah have been sailing smoothly in mainstream waters.

Hence my prejudice. To be fair, I did see Kill Hannah at Rock Am Ring last year, and they were actually quite enjoyable, but I still expected for this record to be utterly cheesy, offering a couple of singles at the most, and filler for the rest. However, I am now on my third consecutive listen today, and while I admit that I'm still not sure as to whether I think there are any "power singles" on this album, their absence is made up for by a general expression that surprisingly isn't all that terrible.

Granted, there are still more than a considerable share of lyrics that are borderline toe-curlingly cheesy, and the fact that frontman Mat Devine insists on singing in a put-on hazy voice (I swear, it sounds like Eric Cartman in some places) doesn't exactly strengthen the band's case. However, someone, none of this ever adds up in moments of true annoyance, and instead, the listener is allowed to dark, textured, sentimental pop-rock with plenty of nods to both eighties- and asian culture. The latter signified by notable amounts of mentioning Tokio, samurais and such, and the later due to beats and electronics that wouldn't feel out of place on a record by The Sounds.

Unusually for an album as poppy as this, the distance between low and high points is remarkably short, but if I must drag some good examples forward, I'd recommend initially paying the most attention to the middle of the album, from track three to eight. "Strobe Lights" is a classic mid-paced radio anthem, complete with emotive chorus and subtle but catchy verse, "Living In Misery" is an alright ballad with a memorable refrain, "Why I Have My Grandpa's Sad Eyes" is almost exclusively electro-pop (think Depeche Mode for kids) and "Mouth To Mouth" is your typical dramatic rock song with added female backing vocals (think Evanescense "Bring Me To Life").

Overall, I realize that in the light of how I usually review, Kill Hannah would seem like a band I would have to hate, and I would normally be happy to oblige, however, this new record of theirs simply isn't pretentious or overblown enough to piss me off. There's a dominating sense that the band knows it's own limits and doesn't overplay its hand, and this I think is a testament to a band that have actually been around before making it to the limelight (Six studio albums is respectable no matter who you are). So while I still think they could be infinitely better if Mat Devine grew up a bit, both in his singing and in his writing, I see no reason why you couldn't casually enjoy this for the honest slab of pop that it is. If for no other reason then because it is certainly better than three out of the four similar bands I mention below:


Download: Living In Misery, Strobe Lights, Escape Artistry, Mouth To Mouth
For The Fans Of: LostAlone, HIM, Tokio Hotel, Aiden,

Release Date 29.09.2009
Original Signal / Universal

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