Holy Moly & The Crackers cut a fine figure on stage. With a riot of limbs and a cacophony of voices, the band’s enthusiastic singer Conrad Bird often takes centre stage. However, there are two fine vocalists in the band, so it’s welcome that their third album opens with Ruth Patterson singing lead.
The circus folk punk aesthetic of the live show is toned down in favour of a tight, hooky pop rock song. Instantly singable, it would surely have been a radio smash if it had emerged in the late ’90s indie scene. Patterson’s vocals are punctuated by strong percussion and Bird’s interjections.
Upside Down has an 80s synth vibe. The vocals are again in safe hand with Patterson, and it’s a well crafted pop stomper cut with fiddle. The lyrics could easily be a nod to the band’s frenetic live show: “you’re only happy when you’re upside down.”
By track 3, Can’t Get Enough, we’ve still yet to hear Bird take lead. His vocal is intrinsically supportive but, let’s face it, we just can’t get enough of Patterson’s powerful sound! The percussion leads in to gypsy jazz instrumentation.
If you don’t know the band yet, the closest comparison may be Skinny Lister if they joined the circus, given their shared vocal duties, regional accents, multi-instrumentalist members and playful, extroverted attitude. Kiss Me Before You Go is a duet embodying these features.
Sister harks back to the ’90s heyday with an empowering riot grrrrl vibe: “bang, bang like you mean it/bang your own drum/your feet are on fire.” The empowering message after a failed relationship with a failure is clear: pick yourself up, dust yourself off and kick ass.
I’d Give It All takes it up a notch, sounding world class and eminently radio ready. Patterson really impresses on this record.
The title track has an exotic Arabian Nights style intro, enticing lyrics and accordion reinforcement.
Through With Talking brings punchy instrumentation and Patterson turning the no-nonsense delivery up to 11: “I’m through with talking ’cause I can’t get through to you.”
Who Do You Think You Are? is a real genre shift, feeling contemporary with a pop dance sound, but balanced with ’90s indie nods too.
Seriously, where is Conrad Bird? ::checks track list:: Ah, Naked In Budapest. That’ll be the one! The song is gruff, metronomic and downtuned with Patterson backing up with harmonic highlights.
This Little Light is a gentle closer to a record that’s an intriguing mix of rock, pop, folk and gypsy swing, with the potential for crossover success helped along by The Prodigy and The Enemy’s producer, Matt Terry.
Take A Bite is out now on the band’s own Pink Lane Records label. At the time of writing, it’s an ‘Amazon Choice’ available on CD, vinyl and download. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the image below and make a purchase. Thank you!
Click here for details of Holy Moly & The Crackers’ summer festival dates plus autumn UK and Europe tour dates.
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