As another British rock band comes along and get lauded with Radiohead comparisons, it is sometimes easy to forget the music. Sure, the lead guitarist looks like Johnny Greenwood, and yes the HOTS make broody, thought-provoking soundscapes; but theirs is a different bag of nuts to their Oxford peers. First there is the size of the band – about 7-strong if you include their projectionists. Then there is the fact that they use projectionists: the stunning films projected onto the band during their live shows are completely symbiotic to the music. And there’s the rub – without these images the music seems divorced, or orphaned. This didn’t matter with their previous single, the tremendous ‘Black Dollar Bills’. But with Enemies/Friends, the song just doesn’t stand up strong enough to be counted. The sentiment (“keep your friends around you and your enemies won’t matter in the end”) is heartfelt, but works better as a slogan to one of their films as here it is simply drawled in a weak voice. It is for the HOTS to work out whether they are going to be a complete art experience including film and music, or whether they are going to perfect the tunes. It is of this reviewer’s opinion that they should concentrate on the latter and take what is essentially a remarkable talent and channel it into a worthwhile canon of songs.
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