Hope and Social’s fourth album ‘All Our Dancing Days’ was made in just ONE MONTH, following their trusty 8 step process: drink beer; make noise with exciting instruments; write and record live band performances; edit recordings, record vocals, record brass and backing vocals (including choirs); then finally – mix album! You can read more about the album making process on their blog here.
It’s the first time I’ve heard their new material via the recording first instead of live in front of me. So, as a big fan of their live performances, I listened to it, wondering what foolishness was happening when they were recording it, trying to work out what instruments they used (I can hear the addition of Hammond organ on this album but I swear I’ve seen Ed playing a Wii remote in the past) – and wondering what random things they will do for the live events.
By the time I found out about Hope and Social, I’d missed a trip to the seaside, a sing song on the town hall steps following a pub crawl and the opportunity to play in a wine bottle orchestra, amongst probably numerous other outings and extravaganzas I can’t bear to think about not being part of. That’s kind of the deal with Hope and Social – you get to be a part of the fun. They invite you to be part of a choir, and then when you’re in it, you can appear on the album, and pop up in secret in the audience at gigs and burst into song. Oh yes.
I think this is their best album to date. Like the others, there’s a blend of light and shade – one minute you’re relaxing in the hot bath of Dust, possibly eating a Cadbury’s flake, the next you’re under the power shower of Shake Your Gimli, using that minty gel that makes your bits tingle. You’ve got the Hope and Social glow of happiness you’ve come to expect, but it’s rousing in a soaring, soulful way instead of a shiny sort of happy way. I put that down to the warm Yorkshire tones, not only from the band vocals but from the choir who produce the sound of a synchronised smile team.
A theme of getting older, times changing, and the gaining of a different perspective runs throughout. The idea that their dancing days are behind them seems pretty laughable – the brass section appear to be conducting my feet during By The Morning Dew, and I can’t imagine any of the band being able to keep still on stage either. I watched Rich, Gary and James jog through a set last summer. It seemed normal at the time.
If you’re asking, the last track is my favourite – Crockery and Lies. The lyrics are world weary and slightly bitter, but it still manages to feel upbeat – with a nuts psychedelic ending!
You can order or download the album over on the band’s website here. As usual, it’s ‘Pay What You Want/Think it’s Worth’ – an explanation of why they do that is here. Excitingly for me, a big Smash Hits fan, they have added the song lyrics to the site too. (Yes Si did really sing “These walls, these walls are crumbling round my balls” in Boxer’s Blood. Brilliant.)
Hope and Social are a supergroup best experienced live. They are currently touring and the next Leeds date is their Office Christmas Party/Winter Special at Otley Courthouse on Friday 14th December. It’s sure to leave you feeling warm inside.