Album #41: HMLTD – West of Eden

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Lucky Number
  • Best Track: Satan, Luella & I

From what I’ve heard of HMLTD in the past, I’m not sure whether I like them or not. Their mix of guitar rock and EDM influences is pretty innovative and original, but I’ve found it hard to escape the notion that they’re trying a bit too hard. Plus their name kind of makes them sound like some sort of financial advice company.

With their debut album West of Eden released last Friday, I’m still none the wiser. There are bits of it I definitely I don’t like, such as ‘Loaded’. The clichéd lyrics, the overproduction, the ‘f-word’ thrown in for the hell of it. Don’t care for it at all. I can’t be doing with ‘Joanna’ or ‘Where’s Joanna?’ either – a two-part tale of murder and cover-up over the top of a semi-comic 2/4 piano section that just seems like a piece of silliness to my ears.

I get the impression that if you’re a fan of the band, I’ve just slammed your favourite tracks, and the ones that would be best received at a live show. I think I prefer their more innocuous ‘album tracks’. The haunting female vocals (from Tallulah Eden) are welcome on ‘Satan, Luella & I’ and ‘149’. Their sound also seems to work best when the guitar and electronic elements are allowed to do their own thing rather than empowering each other, and the vocals take a bit more of a back seat, like on ‘Nobody Stays in Love’ and the socially aware ‘Blank State’.

Some reviewers are seeing this album as something of a classic, while others have found it decidedly mediocre. Myself, I think it’s an ambitious and imaginative work, but one that misses the beat a little, with a theme that ends up being a confused compromise between a critique of Western culture and series of hammy gothic horror tales. It all feels very millennial, and perhaps it just doesn’t “speak” to me in the way it will to some other audiences.

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