[10 December 2008]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
The Hospital Bombers get their name from the Mountain Goats’ “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”, the same song they got the title for their first EP, Satan’s Fingers. If that wasn’t enough, they often take more direct inspiration from John Darnielle’s music in their songs.
On their new record, Footnotes, they don’t sound like the Mountain Goats exactly. In fact, their jangly garage pop sound, mixed with the cleaner sound of violin, is fresh and energetic. But, on songs like “Neighbourhood” and “The Devil’s Music”, the cadence of the Amsterdam group’s vocals, and the frenetic hurt in the narrators, sounds awfully derivative of Darnielle’s early tape recorder days. The band sound better on more stretched out songs like “Jackoff” and “Thunderstorm”, where they keep their vital energy, and filter it through a lo-fi power-pop sound that is more distinctly theirs. They are a band that never lack for vitality, and have a knack for sneaky hooks and subtly infectious melodies in their fuzzy songs. But, in the future, they need to sound a lot more like themselves.
It’s a good sign that they released this album a year ago in Europe, because that gives us hope that they’re grown in that time, that they’ll grow into themselves more with their next release. All they have to do is step out of the immense shadow of their influences. Of course, whether or not they choose to do that is completely in their hands.