I am about to utter the stupidest sentence in the history of rock n roll reviews.
It’s like this, I guess. If you held a gun to my head and begged me to come up with a reason that I liked “Desolation Years” so much, I’d struggle to tell you.
Yeah. That’s why this website doesn’t win the Pulitzer Prize, but I like to think it speaks to our honesty.
You see Hong Faux have come from Sweden with something that doesn’t sound like anything else. It’s not even that its got the most immediately catchy material that you’ve ever heard, either. But listen to its riff and its harmonies at the start of “Wake Me Up For Exit” and to do so is to enter a world. Their world. It’s not yours anymore.
There’s a beakdown on “……Exit” where you think you’re listening to something like Alice In Chains, and whilst there are grungy elements to this, its far too sugar sweet and bubblegum to be Jerry Cantrell.
Instead, there’s something of the Stereophonics arena shaking in the brilliant “Fornever”. And you know they’re under your skin when you’re singing its “a tooth for a tooth means forget the truth” hook at 3.36pm on a Thursday as you contemplate the futility of your existence.
“Zero Point” should have been the one that soundtracked my bleakness, given that it talks about “5 o’clock reboots” you know they are fellow travellers into daily boredom. This one is typical, though, given that’s atypical of anything else here. Niklas Serén hits some notes, crikey. And the song broods and explodes just for fun, maybe because life isn’t a linear journey, so neither is this.
Then comes “Trains”. Now, “Trains” is the one. The first single on the record, and there’s no way that a song this good is on a record and I am not writing about it. Funky? Punky? Yes and yes. And if you can decipher the thing, you’re a better man than me.
“New Vegas” is an energy injection, for those of us who loved The Vines “Get Free”, the difference with this album of course is unlike The Vines’ Hong Faux have more than one great song (of course, that would be facetious…..)
To be serious about the band for a bit, the way they do it with the harmonies of Serén and bassist Johan Bergqvist, makes everything sound happy. The skill of them is that the words are anything but. The title track poses the simple question: “are you ready for the desolation years?” and are you. The bleakness is coming. We’re already in it. Hong Faux, know.
“Disco Necropolis” is a beauty. Happy to be on a pulsing dancefloor at 3am at closing time. I’ve not been anywhere near such a thing for 25 years (there was a girl involved) but like the words say “in for a penny…..”,
HF manage to package so much in these beguiling songs that you forget how they are relatively short. Then they get into you almost by osmosis. Songs shouldn’t have hooks that go “the cripple in me looks for the cripple in you”. “Parasite” does and its not ashamed of itself, either.
“Starkiller” puts you in the middle of Britpop. Cool Britannia if it got to Stockholm? Whatever, it soars off in all kinds of anthemic directions, and there’s a wonderful Screaming Trees vibe to “Whitman, Price And Haddad” – it might be a firm of accountants, to be honest, I gave up fathoming this weeks ago and certainly before “The Flood” closes this in unequivocally pop fashion.
So, 550 words in and we’re no nearer explaining this – and I know that is the job of a review, I’ve written thousands – so here’s what the singer thinks. “Our ambition is to combine the guitar riffs from the ’70s, the grunge scene’s more melodic artists from the ’90s, with modern rock, says Nik. “We have always enjoyed pop choruses and were convinced that the harder rock crew would think we were wimpy. But we were wrong… I guess even the cool dudes like to be tickled on the thighs every once in a while.”.
So that’s cleared that up then. Sod it ,I’ll tickle myself and listen to “Desolation Years “ again, because whatever it is, you can’t argue against the fact that it is fabulous.