HMLTD Release New Track ‘Loaded’
HMLTD made us wait for it. The London-based band finally released their new single, Loaded, after a lengthy period of almost total radio signal, with no new music being dropped and interrupted only by sporadic live appearances. Released with a video that calls back to the ancient world as far as quoting the opening lines of the Odyssey (one of many touches that, given my Classics background, I particularly appreciated), the song will not be completely a surprise to those who have followed the band live, as it has been prominent in their setlists for a while, and I am pretty sure that anyone who has seen it performed on stage will have noticed its potential as single material.
With lyrics about (according to the band) “material wealth and spiritual poverty”, it is also somewhat of a landmark in HMLTD’s brief but eventful history. It is also one of the most potent earworms I have ever experienced, possibly because it is not catchy in an obvious or banal way, yet has enough stand-out parts to remain in one’s memory well after listening to it. In my case, this song has been stuck in my brain since I heard it performed live November last. Listening to the studio version has not managed to dislodge it, so far. Perhaps it will never go.
As with most HMLTD tracks, it is hard to pinpoint an exact genre for this one; alternative rock feels badly inadequate; it has EDM, punk, and pop influences showing through in various places, and several changes of tempo and pacing in spite of which it manages to be quite possibly the band’s most cohesive single so far. The sequence of different sections is handled with great care, and they are tied in by subtle cues even when the transitions are at face value quite abrupt.
It ultimately feels like a spurious lovechild of electronic music and industrial rock. It opens on a riff that could well have come out of an old-style hard rock song, with some bluesy influences even, which resurfaces later when one least expects it to. The vocals are urgent both when they are on the verge of shouting and when they wind down to an ominous whisper, and less dissonant than previous singles had got us used to. There is a remarkable instrumental section, perhaps the strongest part of the track, following a well-executed drop, using distortion and some very dirty sound that fits the mood of the track perfectly.
Speaking of dirty sound, if there is one fault to be found in this track, it lies with the production, which, as is far too often the case in recent times, feels a bit too clean and smooth for a song that on the contrary feels like it’s made to be rough and dirty.
This is the reason why the less polished parts are the ones that work better, and why the studio version, although more fine-tuned than its live counterpart in a way that allows for a better appreciation of its details, lacks part of its primal, urgent feeling. It is nonetheless a very strong statement for a band that has demonstrated the rare quality of being able to take their time in order to deliver something that feels truly different. If this is a first taste of what the much-anticipated album that is hopefully to come will be like, then we’re in for a treat. But then again, HMLTD have showed many times already that the only thing that can be expected from their work is that it will not be what we expected.