Do my ears deceive me or have West Yorkshire’s very own TopHats finally got their EP out? It’s Far Too Long, which I’m guessing is a wry commentary on its slow birth, although it could have equally been called Well Worth The Wait.
If you like your indie firmly in its punky, hard, spiky roots then this understated but perfectly formed EP from TopHats (Alfie Bull, Charlie Shaw, Hugo Clear and Max Broadhead) will be right up your street – I kind of get sounds which remind me a little of the early Clash, but also with a slant that fans of early Arctics will enjoy.
Far Too Long is punchy, fresh and tight, with all the energy of a couple of ferrets in a sack. Dear reader, I would stress no ferrets were harmed to check this comparison. Along the way there’s some spiky lyrics which gives a sharp commentary on the human condition.
The EP bolts out of the starting blocks with the punching Jibs. The lyrics speak of a hard rough life, and there’s a hard pulsing edgy beat to match. This has the feel of a dangerous world, but it’s also one where the unpredictable and hard living also has an exciting and addictive edge. I have a work friend who seems attracted only to the wrong types; if she meets someone respectable she gets bored quickly. This song could be about her.
Next on the EP is an old friend, Eyes On The Prize. I love the jaunty riff line on this song, and the lyrics again gives a fly on the wall view of of a relationship. This is another jaundiced one with a theme which to my mind is about a man stalking a woman who really just wants to go out, have a good time, have a dance, and feels pestered by the guy. Tip: don’t be the man. Musically the song fits well after Jibs, just high quality hard spiky tunes.
Given the subject matter on the EP up to this point, Dead Romantic doesn’t get my hopes up for love. Indeed the opening words “The devil told the truth, a dirty little liar, the devil told the truth, a dirty little gambler” confirmed this is perhaps a song about a third time unlucky.
Having seen TopHats live a few times now, I’m picking up that the band have a knack for a catchy attractive beat and tune and Dead Romantic proves the point again. This is one of those tunes with a great complex tune which weaves around itself like and ivy, before moving into a hard punk phase. Its a complex confection.
We also have the other pre-released tune Take A Trip which has a good contrast in sound – it keeps that weaving flow of the tune together but is a calmer animal to Dead Romantic and again it just makes the whole EP flow – it’s kind of contrasting wallpaper and curtains in the room. There’s a good striking lead guitar on this tune, which again gives the feel of the uncertain, which are matched in the lyrics.
Honest Hearts is a lovely leisurely 8 minutes to close the EP. I’ve spoken before about how TopHats are not afraid to let their instruments do the speaking and I like that confidence and the space it creates. It seems to stand out in a young band whereas others come to it later. The tune really has to stand up to scrutiny and Honest Hearts has a straightforward roll, follows the bass, and it works. This is the TopHats lads channel their inner rock god.
I hear tale and whisper of an EP launch gig; follow the TopHats socials to discover the details soon.