The Charlatan’s Tim Burgess has finally got what it appears he’s coveted for many moons – Hatcham Social. Renowned as a fan of the New Cross indie troupe – once upon a time calling them a “wonderful pop group with the world’s coolest drummer” – he’s putting out their third full-length LP on his own label, O Genesis. Cutting Up The Present Leaks Out The Future was recorded live, straight to tape, in less than a week; in some ways, this ensures that even eight years into their career, Hatcham Social sound as grazed-elbow raw and brimming with youthful naïveté as when they were formed.
In obvious thrall to the halcyon ’70s – especially the six-stringer legends of Lou Reed/Velvet Underground and Ray Davies, and to a lesser extent the denizens CBGBs – Hatcham Social relive an explosive, vital and electric time in music via modern themes and contemporary motives. It doesn’t sound drowned in nostalgia or particularly indebted to the past’s essence, but you can hear the ageing timbres and reverb-laced jangle-rock superimposed over their indie-pop tendencies. It’s a combination they’ve thrived off for years, and it’s not holding them back now; as opposed to them becoming stagnant, it’s kept them icebox-fresh.
“Ketamine Queen”, with oodles of opiate vocals from pipesman Tobias Kidd, sizzles along on repeated narcotic guitar riffs – faintly folky, completely delirious. There’s the odd ebb of avante-garde minimalist synth creeping in, akin to a squall through single-glazing, which is reminiscent of early synthesiser-based music from decades of yore. Following punkily on, “All That I See Is A Gun” howls with hard-rock licks and testosterone-fuelled genitals – Kidd’s vox aren’t especially matching in the brutal short cut, but who’s focusing on those when some scrummy fretwork is being noodled?
That’s where the LP succeeds; the repetitive pinnacles are the guitars. They’re simple, enamoured with shades of veteran legends, but they’re honest. Unpretentious. It’s especially nice in a time when everyone and their dog has something to prove with a guitar, that we see a band go back to the most basic basics, like rock’n’roll (“More Power To Live”), rockabilly (“Confessions Of An English Opium Smoker”) and generations when people still fawned over guitar solos. This is all bulky chords and strummed motif. Even Temples, BBC and Picastro, who’s albums are terrific, aren’t really nailing simplicity – not at all a bad thing, but Hatcham Social’s axe methods are a welcome contrast.
Cutting Up The Present Leaks The Future is a refreshing listen. Its lo-fi aesthetic, invigorating guitar approach, nuanced throwbacks, heartfelt lyrics and general quality (among many other fascinating titbits) all make for a lovely record. It’s not tacked onto the bombast brigade – there’s few tracks, save perhaps “Lion With A Lazer Gun”, which is the album’s most oomphy few minutes of gumption – but rather prefers to slink and slither underfoot, carefully caressing and massaging your brain cells. It’s a grower, not a shower. A thinker, not a… a… erm…
Anyway. Basically, in summary: it’s great, and a valuable addition to Hatcham Social’s canon, but not a record that’ll smack you upside the chops to impress you. You’ve gotta cajole it first – wine it, dine it. Give it the attention and respect it deserves, and you’ll reap the rewards.