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The Burning Hell

People

(Headless Owl / Cargo; US: 16 Apr 2013; UK: 10 May 2013)

Mathias Kom and a rotating cast of whomever is available record and perform as the Burning Hell. People is the Burning Hell’s sixth album since 2007, but the torrid pace hasn’t seemed to hurt Kom’s songwriting ability. The nine songs on the album each tell a self-contained story narrated in a charming speak-singing voice by Kom. Some tracks take a character from point A to point B. The wistful “Grown Ups” recalls a boy and girl who played highly imaginative games as children reconnecting as adults, while the epic “Barbarians” tells the tale of a single Viking father and his infant song. Others are more reflective or digressive, like the shy pick-up artist in “Wallflowers” or the rambling sounds-like-a-true-story of “Realists”. Regardless of the style, though, Kom is a witty an engaging storyteller, and his backing music is always catchy. The Burning Hell employs a lot of clarinet and accordion, but they also aren’t afraid to rock out when the song calls for it. Kom’s particular combination of these different elements makes People resemble a less drug-oriented Hold Steady mixed with a less drunk Gogol Bordello. It’s a winning formula that makes for a unique and highly entertaining album.

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