Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The Wellington four-piece Hans Pucket fronted by singer/writer Oliver Devlin has a mainline into classic pop: check the Eleanor Rigby/ELO strings on the title track of their second album No Drama – produced by the Beths' Jonathan Pearce – before it morphs into something like nihilistic 10cc art-pop (“I'll be adorable but despondent”).
Or Some Good News which seems to distill elements from the second side of Abbey Road into five wonderfully engaging minutes.
But here too are local touchstones: the revved-up Mutton Birds on the guitar chug and explosiveness on You Must Chill; the wry mischievousness of Lawrence Arabia in the measured acoustic strum and harmonies of the delightful Kiss the Moon and The Square (“Let me tell you how I feel . . . I could create chaos in your life”), or the ambitious ease and quality control of the Buffalo-era Phoenix Foundation on My Brain is a Vacant Space: “I'm sore from standing like I was told, aching like my battery's low”.
Hans Pucket also intuitively channel ballads (I'm Not Opposed To), power pop (the noisy Bankrupt with “I'm hit and I'm hurtling down, can't even see the ground”), Beach Boys' harmonies and guitar-jangle bands, then wrap them in clever, original, adult songs with lyrics which don't resile from youthful unease but provide relief and release in elevating, artistic pop.
The Beths' Liz Stokes calls them “New Zealand's best band” and they've signed to Carpark Records in the States (home to the Beths, Chelsea Jade and estimable American artists). With strings from the “Hans Plucket” players and horn arrangements by saxophonist Callum Passells (the “Horns Pucket” section), this album is sophisticated and smart.
Devlin has said Hans Pucket are trying to make catchy, danceable music but with songs about growing up and how to deal with the world.
In that, No Drama succeeds on all counts.