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Hitchcock's Regret - Her Life In Reverse

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 3 / 9 / 2003

Hitchcock's Regret - Her Life In Reverse
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD


Outstanding second recording from Australian band who have achieved the impossible of making an album "drenched in the psychedelic sounds of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and even Hendrix... but which still sounds contemporary"

The first thing that caught my attention about this album was the line ‘Recorded and produced by Michael Carpenter and Hitchcock’s Regret’ in the credits. Whenever Carpenter’s name is on an album these days, as a performer or producer, you can be sure that the music on the CD is going to be worth more than a casual listen. And this second album from Australia’s Hitchcock’s Regret is another success Carpenter can add to his ever-growing list of achievements. There is a lot of music produced these days that is labelled as psychedelic. It’s one of those things that really bugs me. Although only just out of short trousers in those musically glorious days of the 60s I spent all my spare time listening to these new ‘psychedelic’ sounds so I get bitterly disappointed when I hear a new band described as psychedelic as more often than not the sounds they make bear no resemblance to either the heavier sounds our American cousins were making in the mid 60's or the more toytown strain we produced in the U.K. I mention this because with ‘Her Life In Revenge’ Hitchcock’s Regret has made what can only be described as a psychedelic pop album. And it’s the first album by a contemporary band that I can honestly say that about. Most albums that recall the 60's do so as the songs are little more than rewrites (good rewrites in the main though) of the classic sounds of that era. Hitchcock’s Regret have done what I thought was impossible and actually made an album which is drenched in the psychedelic sounds of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and even Hendrix (check out the intro to ‘Tripping On A Wire’) but which still sounds contemporary. It’s an album I feel I’ve been waiting for a long time. It’s all the sounds I loved from the 60's brought bang up to date. Every song here is different. One thing they all have in common is wonderful melodies and choruses so catchy that you’ll be singing along after just a couple of plays. And it’s not just the melodies which warrant the "psych" tag; with lyrics like “Cherry flavoured wine drips from the windowsill out onto the grass that grew like strawberry coloured hair” from the second track’ ‘She’s Looking Through Me’ the band capture the often obscure musings of the greats of the era perfectly. The third track, ‘She’s All That I Think About’ starts off with some perfect Beach Boys inspired harmonies before the song develops into a bright, summery song full of brass at the end and another of the infectious choruses which the band excels at. The backwards guitar and dreamy atmosphere the band create on the following track, ‘Space In Time’, shows how easily the band can shift from the brightness of the previous track to more introspective sounds with ease. This is what keeps the listener interested. Although the next track ‘Tripping On A Wire’ is held together by the Hendrix inspired riff, there is a lot more going on in this song; barely half a minute into the track and we are treated to another of those unforgettable choruses followed by some strangely treated vocals. There are traces of Squeeze on ‘Don’t Wait’, which is no bad, thing but maybe what makes the track so special is the slide guitar by Carpenter here. Some of the tracks need a few plays to really get under your skin. ‘Bitter’ was not one of my favourites the first 3 or 4 times I listened to the album but now it ranks as one of the best. It’s hard to tell from the first few seconds of guitar that the track is going to progress through some jangly guitar, passionate vocals about reclaiming a lost love (perhaps) before recalling the guitar at the end of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ for some reason I can’t work out. Both Carpenter and Jamie Hutchings from label mates Bluebottle Kiss add slide guitar to ‘Milkwood Moon’ which must be a contender for the best track on the album. It’s a ballad with vocalist Mark Moldre’s aching voice really touching the heartstrings. After the following ‘JozyBeck Blues', one of a few strange instrumental passages which link some of the songs we are treated to another acoustic ballad, ‘Salisbury’, kind of like a Simon and Garfunkel song soundtracking a David Lynch film. This album is not what I expected from the band after their debut from last year, 'Regretfulness'. it’s taken another direction and they’ve produced something of a minor classic in doing so. It’s an album which will be returned to time and time again simply because there is so much to be discovered each time it is played. Anyone with a liking for the best of the psychedelic sounds of the 60's will find much to enjoy here. A final mention must go to the excellent notes by Michael Carpenter on the CD sleeve but it does make one long for the days of the 12” album. I wouldn’t need a magnifying glass to read them then!

Track Listing:-
1 How I Wish You Were Her
2 She's Looking Through Me
3 She's All That I Think About
4 Space & Time
5 Tripping On a Wire
6 Alfred's Delight Etc
7 In the Summer
8 Don't Wait
9 Bitter
10 Milkwood Moon
11 Jozybeck Blues
12 Salisbury
13 The Girl Who Came in From the Cold

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