Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Ben Sinclair, The Beths – Hans Pucket, Eczema (2018)
Hans Pucket’s Eczema is always my go-to recommendation if someone asks me for music to check out. It is never a difficult decision for me because they are New Zealand’s best band and Eczema is their best album.
It’s tough being best friends with your favourite band. I mean I’d say we’re closer than most bands. We get to stay at their parents’ house whenever we play in their hometown of Christchurch. Bass player Callum Devlin has created several amazing music videos for us. Jon Pearce (The Beths) has been engineering their new album and I’ve contributed some string arrangements. It’s a dream brelationship but I still find it hard to look them in the eye and tell them how much I fucking love their music. I’ve created these categories so you can see some of the tricks Hans Pucket used to achieve success on this record.
Catchiness 5/5: Melodies are extremely well-composed. Unique and very memorable.
Diversity 4/5: Particularly good range of tempos, a decent number of keys, but limited exploration of time signatures.
Rockness 5/5: Satisfying amount of riffs and guitar solos, sounds good and loud, and heavy when it needs to be.
Duration 3/5: A little bit short, could use a couple more songs or one giant one to really sink my teeth into.
Succinctness 5/5: Definitely doesn’t drag on. You finish and then you listen to it again.
Originality 5/5: The main metaphor of this record is the skin condition ‘Eczema’ which is a pretty daring and unique theme to write your most personal shit around.
Bass Solos 5/5: Extensively used. Callum loves to explore the bass.
Good drum parts 5/5: Explorative and musical. Harder than they sound (I tried to learn one).
Lovely singing 5/5: Oli’s accent is charming and his tone is disarming. Backing vocals really chip in.
There are so many peaks on this album so I’ll give you my quick highlights.
‘Comfort’. The first track of the album. An exercise in how much tension and relief you can generate by comfortably strumming a C major chord for the whole song, and with beautifully tentative melodic and rhythmic exploration in the vocal melody.
Then they throw you into ‘Mentor’. I mean what a fucking riff. Who writes a riff this good. It manages to sound rock-band heavy but doesn’t have that pentatonic grumble to it. It sounds bright and playful.
‘Eczema’ (the song) is my favourite on the record. The chord progressions tick all the boxes for me. Oli doesn’t use a lot of weird chords but somehow manages to make the chordal language sound new and unfamiliar. Listen out for Oli Devlin’s genius lyrics, Callum’s bass solo, and Jono Nott performing the best drumbeat in the second half of the song.
The power trio is such a beautiful format because it gives each member so much room to explore and bring personality to the music. It accommodates the spontaneity and exploration that I learned to love while playing jazz. Everyone and everything is so exposed but sounds stronger because of it. I hear this record and it fucking fills me with energy and makes me want to sit down and focus on writing music for amplified electric guitar and voice so I can get together with some other humans and hopefully create something great. Thanks Hans Pucket.