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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hefner coat their indie sound in synthesizer silk
Hefner's fourth studio album in as many years is the first to make a major departure from their original guitar led sound, and is all the better for it. In all honesty, the excellent and varied We Love The City had taken that path as far as it could go, providing their most accessible and pop moment to date. The only thing wrong with that marvellous LP was that - if you...
Published on 1 Oct 2001 by Anthony Lynas

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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Experimental Hefner at their best?
2000's We Love the City is perhaps the best place to become acquainted with Hefner. With this album we have perfection. From there we go back one year to the almost perfect The Fidelity Wars. Before that came the largely experimental Breaking God's Heart, an album which is not what one may consider as up to their usual high standards. But we won't hold that against them -...
Published on 24 Sep 2001


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hefner coat their indie sound in synthesizer silk, 1 Oct 2001
By 
Anthony Lynas (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead Media (Audio CD)
Hefner's fourth studio album in as many years is the first to make a major departure from their original guitar led sound, and is all the better for it. In all honesty, the excellent and varied We Love The City had taken that path as far as it could go, providing their most accessible and pop moment to date. The only thing wrong with that marvellous LP was that - if you had the previous ones - you could hear some of the songs being repeated, albeit with different instrumentation and lyrics. Dead Media is laden with keyboards and synthesizers, and this change of tack has helped reintroduce originality to Darren Hayman's songwriting.
In many ways, Dead Media is most closely related to Hefner's debut EP, The Hefner Heart, than anything that has followed. There are a hatful of songs here that almost anyone would wished to have written - opening track Dead Media with it's layered synthesizer; Alan Bean, sounding so much freer here than as a single; the sing-a-long Half a Life, and the lilting almost Fairport Convention-esque refrain of Home are all excellent examples of great songwriting matched by intelligent instrumentation. There are other moments here too that lift the album above the competition - the brief interludes of Union Chapel Day and Treacle, the witty link between the opening track and Trouble Kid. Everywhere Hefner's sense of humour and understanding of music remain intact, even if the sound has changed.
There is a fly in the ointment, however. Whereas We Love The City and - in particular - The Fidelity Wars were incredibly consistent records, without any filler whatsoever, the same can not be said of Dead Media. Amongst the 15 tracks, there are 3 or 4 that don't make the grade. Ironically, it's often the tracks that sound most like people expect Hefner to sound that have this problem - Peppermint Taste and The King of Summer being the prime villains. Having said that, this is still a great album. Hefner may have changed from being the lovechild of Elvis Costello and The Tom Robinson Band to being Gary Numan and Kraftwerk's nephew, but the essence of their sound remains intact and they're still not quite like anybody else around at the moment.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Experimental Hefner at their best?, 24 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Media (Audio CD)
2000's We Love the City is perhaps the best place to become acquainted with Hefner. With this album we have perfection. From there we go back one year to the almost perfect The Fidelity Wars. Before that came the largely experimental Breaking God's Heart, an album which is not what one may consider as up to their usual high standards. But we won't hold that against them - this was, afterall, Hefner finding their feet.
With Dead Media we are back to the experimental; the beginnings of a more electronic Hefner, and with one foul swoop we're also back to the standard, and inconsistency of Breaking God's Heart. It's a shame this should be so, since Hefner have proved they can produce excellence throughout in We Love the City.
Gone are the trademark whiney guitars, but remain is the uniqueness of Darren Hayman's voice and the superb lyrics. The boys matured with We Love the City, and Darren's vocals have matured on their own with Dead Media, but that alone is not enough to carry on where Hefner last year left off. They were once a band alone, but Dead Media comes with a splashing of Nine Inch Nails, Grandaddy and early Depeche Mode. It would appear from their 4 albums to date that less of the new electronica and more of the old guitars are needed to make Hefner great. That's not to say we need more of the same over and over to enjoy Hefner at their greatest, indeed change is what makes some of the greatest, well, the greatest. The difference between the Fidelity Wars and We Love the City has shown that a different Hefner is an improved Hefner, but this sort of experimental change, so close to the release of an undiscovered masterpice, it's not clear whether that is an interesting mistake or part of the genius that is Hefner. Only time, and many many more listens to Dead Media, will tell.
One thing for sure is that a good thing will come out of Dead Media if the past is anything to go by: they'll have perfected this sounds in 2 albums time.
Roll on 2003.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear... Dying band...?, 27 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dead Media (Audio CD)
Having produced three stunning albums (Breaking God's Heart, Fidelity Wars, Boxing Hefner), the last Hefner album was a disappointment, musically ok, but lyrically insipid. So with baited breath I hoped the new album would see a return to form; in some ways it does. There are some great songs on here: Peppermint Taste, Alan Bean, the Nights Are Long are all up there with past Hefner. However, that's about as far as it goes. One worrying warning sign is that the best song lyrically is actually an old song many fans will have heard live: China Crisis. Worse, much of the album is ruined by cheesy electro-pop music. Now I've nothing against synths (I'm a Numan fan for starters!), but parts of this sound like they've been lifted from old Doctor Who soundtracks. It's awful. Doubtless Darren and the diehard fans will proclaim this as 'experimental'; frankly, it's a mess. If Hefner want to know how to do experimental while remaining listenable, they'd be well advised to go check out the Eels back catalogue, including the new Souljacker CD. It wipes the floor with this.
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