The Hazey Janes, from Dundee, Scotland, have been around for a while, quietly making rather fine music, supporting some big acts and biding their time until the rest of the world catches up and finally appreciates what they’ve been doing over the last decade. There are some bands whose lack of recognition is truly baffling and this talented foursome must be quite near the top of that list. I’d like to think that all of that is about to change, as “Language Of Faint Theory”, their fourth studio album (officially their third, as 2008’s “Hands Around The City” was unreleased), has all the elements and promise to be the piece of work to get them noticed by those music fans always on the look-out for something a bit special. In fact, this record is a little more than merely special; The Hazey Janes’ latest album is nothing short of gorgeous. With folk, country, indie and power-pop all straddled by Andrew Mitchell (vocals, guitars, keys), Alice Marra (vocals, guitar, keys), Matthew Marra (bass) and Liam Brennan (drums, vocals), it is almost futile to attempt to fit this album into any one genre, but needless to say that if you enjoy melodic, timeless, wonderfully creative indie-pop, “Language Of Faint Theory” will probably be right up your street.
Our first introduction to the album, “Iwan” is a dreamy, blissful track with an ethereal lead vocal and caressing harmonies designed to soothe the soul, complete with irresistible fuzzy guitar solo. It’s an excellent start to the album which only gets better with “The Fathom Line”, a delicious slice of power-pop which could have easily fit onto The Electric Soft Parade’s magnum opus from last year, “Idiots”. Seriously, you have to hear this song. “All Is Forgotten” is another piece of shimmery beauty and Andrew Mitchell’s voice truly is an exquisitely magnificent instrument on a track that can make your cares melt away just by closing your eyes and simply listening. Sauntering country composition “In Shadows Under The Trees” is a fine song. It could be said that the arrangement is a little too busy for it to reach its potential, but when the snare drum replaces the rim shot and the tasteful harmonica solo announces itself, suddenly it all makes sense and all is forgiven. The first half of the album concludes with “If Ever There Is Gladness”, five minutes of gentle indie-pop loveliness, resplendent with chiming guitars, hand claps and a beautifully strong melody.
The waltz-time “Beyond The Heath” is a pleasantly hazy track with some very nice brass touches augmenting the song, whereas “The Genesis” almost harks back to a seventies rock feel, the kind of potent power-pop that Roger Manning Jr. excels at; it’s almost impossible not to love it. The terrific “(I’m) Telescoping” is a richly inventive piece, conjuring sonic images of what Teenage Fanclub may have sounded like if they’d been produced by Phil Spector. Lead vocals on the delectable title track are more than ably handled by Alice Marra and it is a sumptuously lush helping of country-flavoured indie boasting a sublime trumpet solo just to take it to another level of pleasure. The album draws to a close with “Bellefield Moon”, a delicate, yet strikingly pretty piece, with sparse piano chords, strings and chiming vibraphone underpinning a heartfelt Mitchell vocal performance and the album sadly ends every bit as strongly as it began.
The Hazey Janes returned to Spain to where they recorded their first, critically acclaimed album “Hotel Radio” with the same producer/engineer team, Paco Loco and John Agnello, no doubt in order to capture the same feelings and inspiration that led to their first success. “Language Of Faint Theory”, however, isn’t the sound of a band retreating to its roots, it is the product and culmination of ten years of artistic development and progress and there is a strong case to be made for this being their best and most complete work so far. Apart from the sunny, summery vibe to many of the tracks on the album, there is little here that would suggest any kind of Iberian influence at all and their soft Tayside accents shine through on what is an unashamedly Scottish record. It does, however, have a beautifully timeless feel to it and could have been released in any year since the early seventies and, in fact, had it been released forty years ago, it would probably be hailed as an all-time classic. These demonstrably-talented Dundonians have made an album very easy to fall in love with and, believe me, the more you play it, the deeper you fall. The city of Jute, Jam and Journalism should be equally proud of its Janes and for all lovers of shining, irresistibly melodic indie-pop, this album is an absolute must for your listening pleasure.
The Hazey Janes’ “Language Of Faint Theory” was released on 2nd June, 2014 and is available now on Armellodie Records from their site and also from other good retailers.
Andy Sweeney, 1st July, 2014.