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Charlie Hannah & The Hausplants - Special And Different | Album Review


For a long while now, the Kent music scene has been one of the best kept secrets of the music industry, the artists and bands that inhabit mirroring the idyllic country and seaside getaway destination; most people have probably never even been there, but those that have know just how wonderful it can truly be. Charlie Hannah is one such character that seems to be a sort of glue holding a good portion of the Kent scene together, with a multitude of different projects you'd be hard pressed not to have come across one of his endeavours if you find yourself spending a lot of time in the local music venues that occupy this particular 'garden of England'.

Having put out a few solo records on his own already, the Itchy Teeth frontman did things a little differently this time around, grabbing a range of pals he's made from the local gigging community in the recording process for his new full length; Special and Different. Honing in on the innermost thoughts and emotions of the self, Charlie describes the record as encompassing the millennial curse of growing up, questioning your lot in life and, even though we all know our place in the world is often un-extraordinary, thinking “hey, I deserve better”. There's that innate voice in the back of your head that goes: “yeah, y'know what I AM special, I AM different”, cause it's what we've had drilled into our heads growing up from a young age.

The album lulls in on a dreamy, nautical number with 'Over The Sea', a song spattered with high pitched harmony and cryptic wisdoms delivered as if ancient proverbs, before 'Praise Me' comes along with it's smooth keys and ever increasing vocal pitch, addressing the very human desire to seek to praise and validation whilst maintaining an almost parody like level of self awareness in the lyricism, such as the line; “praise me, for all these crazy chord changes”. Third track 'A Dream Will Have To Do' is a sleepy tune that manages to leave itself open to a degree of personal interpretation: is it romantic? Is it melancholic? It's sort of up to you. The track also features vocal harmonies from The Selkies - Flo and Nou (who feature again on later track 'If Jupiter Was A Sun').

'Almost A Hippie' is a bouncy track laden with electronic prongs and prangs, propped up by the bass guitar wizardry of Luke Menniss (of Canterbury prog outfit Lapis Lazuli alongside his own solo workings as Lunchtime!) who also lends backing vocals throughout the album. The titular line “he's almost a hippie” delivered by none other than Charlie's own wife, Kathie Hannah, Special and Different is embedded with this type of camaraderie spirit throughout its run time.

A standout track on the record, 'Adaptagen', tells a tale of a fictional employee struggling to adapt to his overbearing boss, it plays around with aggressive bursts of glitch-noise to convey the inner turmoil of the character, backed by sporadic guitar courtesy of Chris from the now defunct Lazy Pilgrims and the band's successor Wishing Machine, as well as Jaw-G (of the same projects) contributing on backing vocals (they actually both feature prominently throughout the entire record). 'Trying The Bed Out For Size' comes next, an energetic blast of a song with guitarwork reminiscent of something you might hear from The Police (think 'Message In A Bottle'), alongside Charlie's signature falsetto and a dosage of gang vocals from Jaw-G and Luke.

Fading off with wistful lullaby 'Into Another World', and it becomes apparent that a whole lot of love and care went into the crafting of this record, Special and Different is a deep dive into the the innermost self, the kinds of thoughts and feelings that might sometimes be uncomfortable to talk about, yet here they are on display loud and proud, in a way that says “hey, no judgement among friends”. Whether on a rainy night, or a peaceful summer's day, Special and Different is a record that'll keep you company, a definitive grower of a record with which you'll share a stronger and stronger bond with each listen.

8/10

Special And Different is out tomorrow and you can pick yourself up a copy on Bandcamp here.

Charlie Hannah is also celebrating with an album launch livestream in partnership with Reflective Hands on YouTube here.

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