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Cartwheel is a gorgeous, warming embrace of defiance from Hotline TNT


Release date: 03 November 2023
Hotline TNT Cartwheel cover
31 October 2023, 09:00 Written by Craig Howieson

When life doesn't turn out how you planned, where do you turn?

Youth comes with a set of expectations that we rarely question regardless of how bleak our current surroundings are. It's easy to get sucked into the belief that you will complete school, you will get a job, you will fall in love and settle down, and leave any negativity that has stalked your life behind.

But time has a cruel way of proving that this is seldom the case, and that most are lucky if even one of these aspirations comes to pass. At 34, Hotline TNTs Will Anderson finds himself still trying to check off his personal wish list, and in doing so he has thrown himself into his music, culminating in his second release Cartwheel.

With his new-age shoegaze, he provides a gentle yet absorbing escape from the hypervigilance with which we patrol our own lives. 12 songs that are soft around the edges and wash over the listener in shades of sunset orange and pink, guitars morph and collapse in on themselves like the contents on a lava lamp.

Propelled by powerhouse drums that roll like loose boulders through the tracks Hotline TNT may evoke the founders of the shoegaze genre, but it is coupled with the sonic experimentation also found in the works of LVL UP, The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and Cloud Nothings to name but a few.

Even though it feels like Anderson is trying to figure his life out through these tracks, they are filled with purpose. The lurching gait of “Beauty Filler” and relentless surge of guitars on “Son In Law” are a step into hard rock territory without ever losing their nuance. Elsewhere “Out Of Town” is a fuzzed out joy of jangle pop, and the sort of track we could have expected from Brian Wilson if he’d become smitten with overdrive pedals.

Life doesn’t always give us the breaks we deserve. But on Cartwheel, instead of being overcome Anderson goes forehead to forehead with the disillusionment that comes with age; it is contemplative, introspective but never defeatist.

Perhaps tellingly most tracks hover around the two-minute mark. In a blur of warming guitars, they make their point, dust themselves off, and move on to meet a new challenge.

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