Note: This is a review of the subsequently deleted version of Hey! Hello! Too! featuring Hollis on vocals you can read my review of the commercially released version by clicking here.
A couple of years ago Ginger Wildheart unveiled yet another new project as an outlet for a subset of his now vast catalogue of songs that didn’t really fit the styles of The Wildhearts, his self-named band, Mutation or any of the other musical endeavours he was involved with.
Going by the name Hey! Hello! it was a two-piece based studio project that culminated in a self-titled album (you can read my review of it by clicking here) featuring Ginger on all instruments and Victoria Liedtke on vocals.
Since then Hey! Hello! has moved on a bit, Victoria has gone on to other things to be replaced by Hollis J (also of Love Zombies) and a band has been formed featuring, along with Mr. Wildheart on guitar and vocals, Toshi (bass), The Rev (guitar) and Ai Sugiyama (drums) and now, in March 2016, a second album has been released as part of Ginger’s Round Records campaign on Pledgemusic.
As you might expect, given the changes in the band, Hey! Hello!’s sound has developed somewhat but it is still based firmly at the poppier end of Ginger’s trademark sound. While the original album drew comparisons to Sex Pistols fighting with ABBA, added to this already heady mix here are more hints of glam and metal which in many ways makes this something of a successor to Silver Ginger 5 and their one-off record Black Leather Mojo.
Lead single Automatic Love starts off the record with dueling guitars and sets the scene well with what certainly feels like a band album, albeit one clearly led by the songwriting of their founder.
As with much of Ginger’s output in recent years this album continues the theme that he is free of all constraints and is creating what is, essentially, his own musical visions – this is something that has been most obvious on Albion and particularly the Mutation albums, but is evident here, albeit in a more pop sense.
Though certainly with titles like Loud And Fucking Clear this is pop that is unlikely to trouble mainstream radio (and that’s the less adventurous listeners loss).
Across the record Ginger, as always, doesn’t shy away from subjects that don’t often make for pop songs so, as well as his possibly slightly cynical view of romance, we get the likes of Kids that deals with a certain frustration of how having children can spoil ones social life, to Don’t Stop Loving The Music that is, in many way, a direct follow-up to How I Survived The Punk Wars from the first Hey! Hello! record.
If this all sounds a bit intellectual, thankfully that is remedied by power-pop hooks galore that had me singing along even on my first listen – an impressive fat considering I’d only properly heard Automatic Love and Body Parts before.
Musically all the band members deliver but it is the vocal link between Hollis and Ginger that really stands out. Compared to Victoria, Hollis adds a good level of rock ‘n’ roll edge to her parts while also sounding as close a melodic match to Ginger as we’ve heard since CJ in the classic Wildhearts material – albeit in a different kind of way.
As a long time fan of Ginger and his music its hard to give a view as to whether Hey! Hello! Too! would ever crossover to a wider audience than already established fans, but I can’t help think that for anyone with a love of vibrant, honest, power-pop driven rock ‘n’ roll there’ll be something to enjoy here and, despite Ginger’s long and tumultuous history, Hey! Hello! certainly have the songs and style to stand apart from that as their own entity in their own right.