An album review — an honest one at least — cannot help but be colored by whatever is happening in the writer’s life. One has to spend time with the record, each listen revealing something more about artist and author alike. In that spirit, I retire to bed shortly after the fourth listen of Hank and the Cupcakes latest album, Cheap Thrill.
The sky morphs into a coal-black iron curtain. Thick red lightning blazes from cloud to cloud. A mighty cyclone forms, followed by another. I’m terrified, yet around me the vibe is celebratory. My family is dancing around as if they had been waiting on the end of the world. Power is out everywhere, communication is limited to those within earshot, yet a party vibe starts to evolve. People are hugging and dancing. Couples are passionately, euphorically embracing.
I awake at 4:00 a.m., a little parched with existential questions. Reflexively, I start Cheap Thrill for listen number five. Sagit Shir’s voice comes in like a steamy New York summer — sweaty and backed by Ariel Scherbakovsky’s cacophony, but constantly stimulating. This is a punk record. Or is it a pop record? Or some kind of folk influenced straight ahead rock? No, Cheap Thrill is not something we can expect to reduce to genre pigeon-holes.
Cheap Thrill is the soundtrack to an apocalyptic party. The people in my dream were dancing to it, making-out to it, letting go to it. Maybe not literally, but Cheap Thrill is the sound of their celebration. After a racing start — signalling the realization that we are all doomed and it makes sense to start kissing the faces of those we love if only for a moment — Hank and the Cupcakes remind us how we got here. Among many missteps, we spent a lot of time and money fighting against the right of people to love whoever they want. On “Boulevard,” Hank and the Cupcakes remind us of who we are and who we “used to be.”
“Telephone Line” marks the halfway point in the party at the end of days by reminding us of what happens when communication falls off the existential cliff. The common current is digestible punk structures with pop sensibility. We find ourselves reminiscing the tough times and the pain that leads to the end. Then “Old and New” comes along and saves us from over-stimulation with its spiritual-influenced nostalgia.
The end of the world does not seem as bad as it did the night before. Storm clouds still rage, albeit not so ominous as before. We are at peace in the party at the edge of existence with Hank and the Cupcakes providing the soundtrack.
Cheap Thrill comes full circle with its coup de grâce. “Waiting” and “See the Lie” bring a thunderous end to a compact album offering an alternative to doomsday as we imagined it.
Hank and the Cupcakes’ latest album is due out July 1st, 2016. Far from signalling the end of the world, it seems a harbinger of good things to come for the Atlanta-based duo. We have long been fans of their live show. Now we celebrate their records as well. Cheers to Hank and the Cupcakes and the end of worrying.
Stream Cheap Thrill by Hank & Cupcakes below.GET HANK & CUPCAKES + SWIMM + SOMEDAY RIVER TICKETS HERE!
Also, CONGRATULATIONS! Sagit & Ariel are expecting a new little cupcake! It’s about time these two brilliant, sexy humans made a baby. 😉
Catch Hank & Cupcakes on the road all summer long — http://www.hankandcupcakes.com/
Hank and the Cupcakes Album Stream & Review by Jason Earle
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