Search The Line of Best Fit
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HC1 credit Lily Doidge

Home Counties take a turn for the dance floor on “Bethnal Green”

13 September 2023, 18:00 | Written by Cassidy Sollazzo

Set to a synth-pop groove, London-based Home Counties explore the perils of gentrification on their newest single “Bethnal Green”.

With each release, Home Counties continue to refashion their sound. Following their first two EPs — which were full to the brim with heavy riffs and intense spoken-word evoking the likes of Pavement and La Dispute — the group goes light on the punk and heavy on the pop in their newest single “Bethnal Green”. "Oh you won’t like this, it’s just some crap pop thing I’ve come up with’,” songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Will Harrison declared to his bandmates. “But then immediately everyone was into it. It felt good that we could do this sort of song; it really opened up what was ‘acceptable’.”

Meditating on Bethnal Green, the East End neighbourhood the six-piece newly call home in a shared band flat, blunt, declarative lyrics explore what it means when a town changes, and whether that change is welcome or detrimental. Using similar themes of neighbourhoods and normalcy they’ve explored on previous releases, there's a slight tweak in perspective on "Bethnal Green". The band explains the track is “the experience of being an active participant in the gentrification of an area, and the conflicting feelings of guilt that come with trying to justify your presence there.” Take the line “Went to Bethnal Green postal code / Got too gentrified and it lost its soul, oh no”  —  a dilemma faced by city dwellers everywhere.

“Bethnal Green” is electronic and synth-forward, while still having an innate flow and groove. It strikes a similar chord as The Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan with an undeniable dance beat that promotes swaying and foot-tapping (or constant head-bobbing, as modelled by band members themselves in the track’s playful music video). Group newcomer Lois Kelly adds welcome texture to the vocals, including a back-and-forth with the deeper tones that mimics the persistent, siren-like synths.

On the addition of Kelly to the group, the band says “Hearing Lois' voice on the track really expanded our idea of what Home Counties could and should be.” Though robotic in delivery, by the end of the song the vocals are full of emotion, like in the confused and regretful line “If I say I’m sorry then I’m sorry.” It’s an unexpected gut shot, a break from the monotone verses that builds on the dissonant synths and intensifies the group’s uncertainty surrounding the intricacies of gentrification, and where they fit into the greater cultural debate.

“Bethnal Green” sees Home Counties remaining true to their thematic roots while charting off into their most ambitious genre evolution yet.

“Bethnal Green” is out now. Find Home Counties on Instagram.

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