Album Review: Hurricane #1 – ‘Find What You Love and Let It Kill You’

Find What You LoveIf the recent celebration of Britpop’s twentieth anniversary was muted, perhaps there was little to be surprised about.

Few of its survivors give it much credence now as a movement – many others were left permanently scarred by its excess. Created in response to increasing trans-Atlanticism, it was a period after all perceived as the last great British cultural renaissance, an orgasm of nationalism which was inevitably commoditised by politicians and marketing spook alike, the feelgood factor evaporating into little guilts and sharkish exploitation.

Hurricane #1 spent most of those two decades as the shell of a band which former Ride strummer Andy Bell formed after the Oxford group’s messy dissolution somewhere in 1996. Joined by Scottish singer Alex Lowe and signed to the burgeoning but chaotic Creation anti-empire, they released two moderately successful albums; 1997’s self titled début and ‘Only The Strongest Will Survive‘ two years later. Not exactly mourned, their token memento was, until recently, first single ‘Step Into My World‘, a spiralling cross between Oasis and Lowe’s heroes Teenage Fanclub, pathos and braggadocio perched equally on either shoulder.

Bell left to form Gay Dad and latterly joined the brothers Gallagher whilst Lowe drifted, releasing solo works and ending up back in his native country. In the last few years many bands from that era – including of course Ride themselves – have emerged as version 2.0 (or more typically 1.1.), but the idea to pull Hurricane #1 back into our consciousness was borne out of far more desperate circumstances than a chance meeting over a glass of wine. Without warning, Lowe was diagnosed with bowel cancer, immediately rushed into hospital and left both broke and homeless as a consequence. In a terse statement released in late 2014, his former label admitted that he’d been close to death on three occasions.

Faced with a myriad of choices Lowe, instead of wilting in the shadow of chemo and radiotherapy, began to write the songs which would become ‘Find What You Love and Let It Kill You‘. Recuperating, he found Italian brothers Giancarlo and Lucas Miriani, along with drummer Chris Campbell, together creating a revitalised version of a long dormant notion – now all that remained was the small matter of reconnecting with a music buying public with complicated twenty first century tastes and foibles.

Perhaps understandably channelling instinct, Lowe has kept things simple. Any fears that a record created from strife would be shot through with mawkishness are beaten away by opener ‘Best Is Yet To Come‘, a salutation to hope played out over both the singer’s instantly familiar rasps and guitars, guitars and more guitars. His inner brief was to keep things brim full of hope and optimism, hence songs like ‘Think Of The Sunshine‘, a psychedelic charabanc to the beach of survival – mirrored shades and all – whilst ‘Crash‘ recalls the wall-of-sound dynamics – the cymbals sound like they’re about to take off – of an era when the harmonic nuance of The Byrds nestled comfortably with urgency of punk and the crie de cour of post-glam’s showmanship.

As hackneyed an expression as it might be, the emphasis is firmly placed on both craft and form, tunes which have a beginning, middle and end. Uncle music but played with a certain naivety seldom found in today’s metropolitan dives. It’s full of idiosyncracy too; on ‘Coyote Ahoy‘ a muted slide acts as impostor, the song’s back country ethos less primal than much that surrounds it, whilst ‘Heathen Mother‘s free-wheeling debt to Buffalo Springfield is less about its innocence than the root-working magick of natural law.

It’s tempting to judge this work solely on its circumstances, but that would be unfair. Being reasonable, it’s worth saying that this is a record not so much for purists (it sputters on ‘Feel Me Now Again‘ and the creaking melange of ‘Where To Begin‘) so much as those who will come for nostalgia but stay because they prefer its here and now.

Probably the most appreciative thing that can be said of ‘Find What You Love And Let It Kill You’ is that its wholesomeness and honesty have managed to commute Lowe and the band’s back story to something less than their sole reason for being. It is after all what its creator intended it to be; nothing so fussy as a catharsis, more the work of a group back at work, playing rock n’ roll for a living.

That at least is something worth living for.

(Andy Peterson)

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