4 Jul 2022

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Cut Off Your Hands - Album Review: HLLH (Higher Lows Lower Highs)

19 Oct 2020 // A review by Adrian Drew

Cut Off Your Hands long awaited third and final album HLLH (Higher Lows Lower Highs) is exactly that; full of highs and lows. Throughout the listen, I found myself wanting to both; hate and love somebody for everything this album is about. Let me explain…

That’s right, it’s the band’s farewell album, hate somebody!

I’ve been a fan since the days of Shaky Hands when there was a great little scene going down with similar bands The Tutts, Motocade, Collapsing Cities etc. and caught them playing at the old Schooners Tavern on Quay Street and a few Grey Lynn house parties. The massively catchy Hate Somebody is actually written about frontman Nick Johnston’s Crummer Road abode… or more to the point, the bourgeois moving into the hood.

Basically, a David Byrne/Talking Heads tribute album, love somebody!

It’s as if they unearthed some Heads’ demos and gave them a new life as their own. You can tell that time has been spent on these 5 songs, they are truly outstanding tracks and catchy as all hell! Great funky, indie pop swingers that bare the hallmarks of our favourite COYH songs we love to dance to. These singles have been drip-fed to fans over the past few years, with the latest Blue Smoke Draft a gorgeous autobiographical shoegazer. Listen closely and you can hear a hint of Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar and a less than subtle ref to LCD Soundsystem’s Someone Great - another song about losing a paternal figure. This proves once again that there’s more to the songs than catchy hooks and melodies, lyrically Nick is still on top of his game.

There’s only around 25min of actual songs, hate somebody!

The 'album' starts off instrumentally with a nod to LCD Soundsystem My Friends (one of my all-time favourite songs ever!) but moves swiftly into more layered tones, notes, synths and samples. I swear I could hear birds beckoning me into a purple mushroom forest. Two of the tracks are instrumental live studio noodlings, one of which is under a minute long and begs the question… why the fuck are they included on this album?? Then the final track Love Somebody is a nine and a half minute aurally offensive noise wall. It breaks into a semi euphoric ambience until it’s dystopian doom conclusion, all with sudden abrupt end. ‘Planet 9 From Outer Space’ film score for sure!

HLLH has to be the hardest album I’ve had to review, because basically it isn’t an album. It’s a 5 song EP with a bunch of fillers (out now on vinyl), that leaves me feeling ripped off. That is, until I listen to the five actual songs again, which are killer tunes! I understand that in today’s world, the old norms don’t apply anymore. Artists release an album anyway they damn please and I’m not about to tell anyone to do otherwise, but if you want an album review, I want an album to review. If you want to sell an album to listeners, I’m sure they want to listen to an album. So, let’s say an average album is ten songs and I have five stars to reward at my disposal, that’s half a star awarded per song. 'HLLH' only has five songs in my opinion, all of which get the total half star each for being excellent. Add that up and you get; two and a half stars… but with Swedish rounding - it’s a three from me.

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )

About Cut Off Your Hands

"Sounding kinda like if The Buzzcocks and Gang Of Four got all romantic and then had a child with Attention Deficit Disorder who couldn't stop jumping off things and hanging from the rafters. Shaky Hands will make your handheld disco meter explode." - A Low Hum

"Awesomely angular, New Zealand's new finest purveyors of controlled chaos." - Rolling Stone

"Cut Off Your Hands is a great start for what is soon to be another great New Zealand band." - Waikato Times

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Cut Off Your Hands


Year: 2020
Type: Album
Year: 2011
Type: Album
You & I
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Blue On Blue
Year: 2007
Type: EP
Cut Off Your Hands
Year: 2006
Type: EP

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