Stockport’s favourite indie-funk sons look to live up to the hype on their debut full length
The last few years have seen the stock of Stockport’s No Hot Ashes rise astronomically. Just four young men from just outside Manchester, their chaotic live shows and the development of their distinctive blend of indie and funk has seen them gain a loyal and ardent fan base, and emerge one of the worst kept secrets in the UK music scene.
Given this astronomical rise, it only makes sense that their debut album is titled Hardship Starship. Fans of the foursome will be pleased to know that the album is very much more of the same. Taking the leap from odd releases and EP’s to that debut full length can be daunting, but No Hot Ashes look to have made this transition seamlessly. There are no jarring left-field turns, and there didn’t need to be. This album is No Hot Ashes taking the best of what they have and crafting a captivating and memorable debut full length album with it.
This album kicks off with its lead single ‘Extra Terrestrial’, and it is everything that the young band embody. It is indelibly catchy, unmistakably tongue in cheek, and dripping with poise and swagger. There is something about the Not Hot Ashes sound that is remarkably assured and confident for such a young band, and their irresistible funk-influenced riffs just serve to inflate this. The perfect choice to set the tone for the album.
Tracks like ‘CAR’ and ‘Trouble’ take the baton and continue to sprint ahead. While both tracks are memorable and distinctive in their own right, there is an obvious feeling that No Hot Ashes have really honed in on and understand their unique sound. There is No Hot Ashes’ DNA coursing through everything. Whether because of Isaac Taylor’s distinctive voice or their unique, offbeat charm, it is immediately apparent that none of these tracks sound like anything or anyone else.
Fan-favourite ‘Bellyaches’ rears its colossal head not much later. While the track is two years old at this point, its inclusion never feels forced, and the track never feels even remotely out of place. This is of course, helped by it being monstrously catchy.
‘Motion Sick’ sees the band delve into more candid and introspective territory. Framed as a conversation between a young artist and their mother after some time spent away, the track highlights the fragility of life on the road. Once again pulling from metaphors involving space travel and exploration. The track is pleasantly candid and provides a view from behind the glass at a band that seem to have the world at their feet.
Space travel is a recurring theme on Hardship Starship. The rise of the young outfit clearly has them feeling like they’re floating around in space. It is a surreal and nauseating feeling, as referenced in tracks such as ‘Motion Sick’. This is a specific feeling that the band feel, but something that can be applied universally. We’ve all had that feeling where we’ve been propelled to an elevated position without much prior warning, and the band convey this eloquently. This provides a neat concept for the album to rest on. It’s an album about a young band who are hitting success and feel like they’re floating on the air, because that’s what they are.
The band take a step back into the UK on the scathing ‘Indecision/Intermission’. The track is almost an open letter to broken Britain and Brexit. With the band pulling no punches when drawn on their thoughts about David Cameron and the state he has left their homeland in.
‘ISH-KA’ is by far the most unique track on the album. A bouncy guitar riff meets what is almost a rap song. Elements of punk are also present, specifically in its bile-filled chorus. It is a welcome change of pace, and a track that showcases the range the young band possess.
Another recently released track is ‘W.Y.N.A’. Providing the already vintage No Hot Ashes sound. “Feels like we’re going in circles” will whirr around your head for days after your first exposure to the track. This is one of the stronger tracks from the album, highlighting the more accessible and hook-laden aspects of their sound. Album closer ‘Hey Casanova’ compounds and provides another track swimming with hooks. Punchy riffs meet another signature and unmistakable No Hot Ashes track.
All in all, Hardship Starship is a resounding success for No Hot Ashes. As an emerging band still establishing their sound, all that was really missing was a more whole and complete body of work to solidify this. Filled with catchy hooks, swagger and their uncompromising working class charm, No Hot Ashes are establishing themselves as a resoundingly cool new band. With enough style and substance to gain serious contemporary indie credibility, the sky truly is the limit. The question is only whether the bank can transform from cult classic into household name.
‘Extra Terrestrial’ sees Isaac exclaim “sit down, doesn’t nothing ever fucking faze you”. Well if album number one anything to go by, nothing seems to faze No Hot Ashes.
Hardship Starship is out on August 16th via Modern Sky UK