Album Review: Hey! Hello! – “Hey! Hello! Too!”
Back in 2013 I gave the first Hey! Hello! record a fully justified 10/10 in the periodical I was writing for at the time. A perfect pop-rock outing, the album allowed Ginger Wildheart to express his lighter side, even learning to play drums so he could go completely solo (well, with a little help from Victoria Liedtke on co-vocal duty).
After turning the project into a full band (with Ai Sugiyama, Toshi and The Howling’s Rev), Hey! Hello! Too! was originally due out this summer until carnage ensued. In short (deep breath) Victoria is no longer singing with Hey! Hello! Neither is Love Zombies frontwoman Hollis Mahady who appeared on v1 of this record before deciding it wasn’t for her, forcing the already recorded album to be pulled. After an X-Factor style audition process went a tad awry, Ginger announced he would handle vocal duties himself but then proceeded to appear at recent H!H! shows with auditionee Cat Southall fronting the band.
So, as we fire up Hey! Hello! Too! v2 it’s clear that Ginger has kept a few cards up his sleeve. Previous opener Automatic Love is gone, replaced instead with the bouncy triumph of All Around The World, featuring a female lead vocal that’s distinctly not Ginger. Curiouser and curiouser…
Those who managed to snag the download of the Hollis versions will find the triumvirate of This Ain’t Love, Glass of Champagne (a revamp of the quirky 1976 Sailor hit) and Kids more than familiar. All three succeed in bringing back the playfulness of the first album, with ingenious lyrics and harmonies that burst with a joyously cynical dichotomy. Loud And Fucking Clear on the other hand has been reworked to focus on the trauma caused by Hollis’ departure on the eve of the band’s tour, with the lines “you left a brother and a sisterhood/good luck finding that in Hollywood” cutting particularly deeply. The Rev sticks the knife in even further on album closer Perfect and it’s initially surprising, if understandable, to hear such an emotional outpouring from a band who pitch themselves as the sound of positivity, even if the record does conclude on an upbeat note.
This isn’t quite as easy a listen as Hey! Hello!’s debut, but it’s certainly no less accessible. Ginger’s been doing this long enough now to be able to bang out riffs such as those in the pixyish Forever Young in his sleep, whilst a cover of Iron & Wine’s A History Of Lovers hints at what we can expect from his forthcoming folk album. Using an array of female guest vocalists also allows the record to veer down all sorts of interesting musical avenues, all the way from Ginger’s Lemmy tribute, the spiky Let’s Get Emotional, through to yet another reworking of Body Parts (originally on Albion), which on this occasion is given a massive intercontinental twist that works surprisingly well.
Hey! Hello! Too! is rawer than its predecessor, and it’s a punkier and heavier second child to boot. With a full band throwing their weight behind it, the album gains a much bigger sound, and although this is an emotionally charged slab, H!H!2 provides enough moments of pure joy to brighten the darkest of autumnal days.