York based indie rock desperados Hello Operator formed while still at school over a mutual love of Queens Of The Stone Age, The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys. In the six years since their formation the four-piece band have toured heavily, including appearances at such famed festivals as the Isle Of White and Reading & Leeds fest. Their debut single ‘Stephanie’ was championed by Radio 1’s Greg James and Frank Carter. Following a steady slew of single and EP releases, the band finally unleash their self-titled debut album on an unsuspecting world.
Featuring five past singles that I am aware of, it is no surprise that there is an instant familiarity on first listen. But what I wasn’t prepared for, was how hard these boys rock! Don’t be fooled by the bands indie rock leanings, as I am happy to report ‘Hello Operator’ is a full-blown monster of an album. With fuzzed up guitars, booming bass and pummeling drums that have the combined power to dislodge your spleen from the stomach, the band create a desert rock wasteland for main songwriter and singer Max Dalton to croon over until the cats come home.
Following radio interference and feedback, ‘Decimator’ gets things off to a raucous start. Fuzzy, Josh Homme inspired riffage courtesy of guitarist Peter Greenwood, the powerhouse rhythm section of Sam Dalton (bass) and Eddy Ellison (drums) and Max’s ultra-cool falsetto hook, combine with definite Arctic Monkeys influences to create a beast of an album opener blasting off at 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
Of the already released singles there is much to enjoy. ‘I Created A Monster’ takes a bluesy, Tarantino-esque vibe and runs with it. A cool bass line and solid drums lead us through a tale of creating a lady Frankenstein who lives in a dumpster or something, while Max delivers a cool, memorable chorus and Pete matches the intense rising beats with frantic riffage.
‘King Solomon’ sees the band stomp a heavy leather boot in yer face, with Jack White harmonised guitar lines and a killer chorus refrain. Elsewhere, ‘Reeperbahn’ sees the boys cruise down an 80’s new wave influenced highway. With a driving beat and a killer vocal hook that imbeds in the brain, this is a quality single release. (It’s also worth hunting down the various dance remixes available online that just add to the diversity of this band).
The regimental beats and Liam Gallagher style whine of ‘King Of Ruin’ hits the spot. The alternative 90’s feel at the fore, it comes on like Oasis raging against the machine. Is that a thing? Well, it is now!
But there’s one particular song on this album that stands out from the rest. One song that is the focal point of what this band are truly capable of. When I first heard ‘The Choreographer’, I was blown away. The next two people I played it to had the same reaction. I recently heard someone suggest it would make an ace, alternate Bond theme tune, and I think they hit the nail right on the head.
This song has a cinematic quality for sure. The picked acoustic guitar intro, the subtle strings that build nicely, to the haunting vocal performance that shows a vulnerability to Max’s vocals. Then there’s that unexpected moment when the band kick in that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. This is a band taking things to a whole new level. It could well be the song of the year. Simply stunning.
The clever arrangements, infectious hooks and glorious guitars keep on coming and keep this listener’s attention. ‘Strangers in The Rain’ and ‘Animalize’ are cool as you like, and album closer ‘I Am Your Bible’ follows a similar cinematic path to ‘The Choreographer’. A dark and foreboding vibe is created as a skulking bassline drives the song. The guitars intertwine as it flows along nicely, before unexpectedly going off on a tangent into some otherworldly Danny Elfman soundscape with jagged guitars and raging drums. Up and down, it takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride of emotions before descending one final time to fade.
In the past they’ve been called feral, ferocious and fucking amazing! Now, with the right management and record label, it seems the time is right for the band to make their move. With strong songwriting, a killer sound and a production job that brings out the best in the boys, Hello Operator have released a debut album that’s up there in the running with anything released this year. It’s the perfect mash of indie vibes and desert rock goodness you never knew you needed in your life. I highly recommend you click the link, buy the digital version for now and hassle the hell outta their record company to release the thing on vinyl in time for Christmas.
Author: Ben Hughes