I have been a pretty major fan of the work of Ginger Wildheart for quite some time and bang on about him fairly relentlessly to anyone who gives me the hint of an opportunity, I have all (I think) of his records and have pledged on all the PledgeMusic campaigns so far, but, in writing this I have done my best to approach it from as clear a view as possible, like I do with any other album I review on here, no matter the supposed status and stature of the band in question.
Right with that out-of-the-way, anyone still left reading, let’s get onto the self-titled debut album from new band Hey!Hello!
When this album was first announced words like “a combination of ABBA and the Sex Pistols” were used to describe it and, while they may be simplifying slightly, they serve as a good introduction to the idea at work here.
What Hey!Hello! is largely comprised of are a bunch of bright and breezy pop tunes with a punk edge rammed firmly in, mostly in the form of buzzing guitars and (at times brutally) honest lyrics – so far, so what Ginger Wildheart has generally aimed to do on all the albums since Earth Vs The Wildhearts way back in 1993, what makes this different seems to be two things.
First is the air of positivity coming from the chief songwriter; second is that this has clearly been written for a well-conceived project. So, rather than writing songs and recording them with the, at times, erratic and revolving door-like line of the Wildhearts, or under the auspices of his solo project, here he has teamed up with singer Victoria Liedtke to create this specific set of songs giving the whole thing a much more cohesive feel, particularly when compared to 555%, Market Harbour or Valor Del Corazon.
Anyway I think that’s the comparisons done now too. So, what we get on Hey!Hello! is Ginger at his pop songwriting best and freed from any shackles of expectation made by his previous outfits with a new collaborator who can deliver the sweet vocal tones needed for to counteract his vocals to make this work.
While Ginger wrote the songs and played the instruments its clear that without Victoria this album simply wouldn’t work. This is obvious from the off as the duo banter back and forth on a song that captures much of the spirit of what is to come, Black Valentine, which is pure dynamic, double-fronted, pop-punk for grown ups.
From there this what we get, for at least the first half of the record, with Swimwear being another highlight thanks to a short but discordant solo amidst choruses designed to get lodged in your head.
While still retaining much of the positive pop vibe we get a few tracks that have a slightly more minor edge to them, particularly highlighted on Lock For Rock (and other sporting clichés) and The Thrill Of It All, with a good dose of grammatically and emotionally clever lyrics thrown in too and this sums up pretty much all of the album except for one song which stands out from the crowd.
While still a great song that again uses the dual vocals excellently, How I Survived The Punk Wars doesn’t really sit well with the other tracks on this album as it address some of Ginger’s recent critics directly while summing up his ongoing philosophy on making music with the repeated phrase “Ask lots of questions, don’t eat the bullshit”.
While still very much in a pop-punk genre this is by far the hardest song on the record and hints (very lightly) at the other project Ginger Wildheart had on the go at the same time, Mutation.
Ending on possibly the albums most technically daring but viscerally least satisfying track, We’re Outta Here, Hey!Hello! has a lot to like about it for both fans of Ginger’s previous work and people who just like good, guitar based, pop-rock and, fairly typically, it doesn’t always go the way you’d expect but it goes the way it wants to and feels like it should – which is a triumph in a world where pop has, very often, become a dirty word.