The News From Nowhere cover

Album review: The Hoosiers – ‘The News From Nowhere’

The News From Nowhere cover

The Hoosiers

The News From Nowhere

Preorder: The News from Nowhere

It’s album number three for The Hoosiers, coming four years after their last LP. ‘The News From Nowhere’, supported by its fans as is popular these days, sees like more of a group effort from the four-piece as their latest album features different vocalists and a stronger production vibe and though the new album lacks that one killer single – there is a lack of a huge hit like ‘Goodbye Mr. A’, ‘Choices’ or ‘Unlikely Hero’ – it’s their most consistent album yet with a handful of catchy pop songs and a strong ear for a tune. And as a fan of mid-noughties pop-indie over the current trend for electronic RnB dance, ‘The News From Nowhere’ is my latest reason to be happy over the last twelve months following the return of Franz Ferdinand Kaiser Chiefs to the release listings.

The Hoosiers’ latest piece opens with the first single ‘Somewhere in the Distance’, a classic sounding track with an ear-pleasing Mariachi sound in places alongside a slower, but memorable chorus. Feeling much more like their older sound, this hit builds to the end, throwing in a fun breakdown and well weaved-in synth, forming a solid, tight first song, and a definitely singable package.

Track two and follow up single ‘Make or Break (You Gotta Know)’ sees a shift in style with Alan taking over lead vocal duty on the verses. With an Irwin-led chorus that isn’t perhaps as bombastic as you think it’s going to be, this is still a solid number and a definite grower, with its percussion winning you over with its memorable lyrical hooks. Adding a ‘Radio Ga Ga’-like electronic section into the breakdown adds to it, to form a well-received number.

‘My Last Fight’ is a slower, pondering tune but with a foot-tapping, and a quickly hook-making repetitive chorus. It’s not the greatest piece on the album but the ‘oh-oh’ hook that’s used and the quality guitar sounds make it a strong pop number.

It’s track four ‘Fidget Brain’ that takes the album and runs with it, becoming one of the highlights of the album and my tip for single number three. Stripped back verses make way for a ballsy chorus with everything thrown at your speakers. Definitely one of the catchiest numbers on the record, its verse > bridge > chorus structure sells it.

Alan-led ‘Handsome Girls and Pretty Boys’ has a determined start and an OK first verse, but the chorus and subsequent verses make up with this with a jaunty, Beatles vibe. With a dramatic second verse sealing the deal and the chorus growing, this becomes one of the better numbers on the record, especially as it accelerates towards the end with a cool synth and guitar conclusion.

With that number bleeding into the titular track, we move onto a piano-led ballad headed up by Irwin that keeps moving along with its simple piano and trombone. Sombre it may be, but it’s not as lyrically dark as we’ve known from the band and there’s a top bridge to hold it together.

Moving onto the second half of the record and ‘Rocket Star’ is a bouncier number that’s much more jaunty and toe-tapping and goes back to the group’s classic sound, mixing in NASA-based audio with the funky guitar and drum line. With plenty of lyrical hooks, the chorus becomes pretty memorable.

Earlier number ‘Cops and Robbers’ meets ‘Cool For Cats’ on next track ‘To The Lions’, with enjoyable piano riffs and thick drums. Very poppy and my next tip for a single, it’s the bounciest number on the LP and one of my favourites, and must sound great live. With the added brass – especially the saxophone – adding some extra levels to the album, this is a promising number.

‘Upset’, track nine, continues the more poppy nature with some hooky lines and a fun guitar solo. It may get a little lost in its layers but the funky guitar and brass makes up for it. ‘Weirdo’, which follows, relegates Irwin to backing vocals, leaving Alan and Sam to take the lead, making it into a subdued number that feels like a bridging track, but the added brass and strong chorus as it builds up keeps it all together, and the gentle piano conclusion wins favour.

The final main track ‘Impossible Boy’ plasters Irwin Sparkes with a vocoder but it works and suits the style of the piece, creating a well judged production decision and an ELO vibe. I still think The Hoosiers work better when they’re more uptempo than this but it’s a soaring end of the album with just the short and sweet hidden track ‘Nathan’s Loft’ adding a more gentle, ethereal note to proceedings.

Overall ‘The News From Nowhere’ is a solid return by the band with some cracking pop tracks scattered among its track listing. It may lack one definable radio-friendly hit – no ‘Goodbye Mr. A’, ‘Choices’ or ‘Unlikely Hero’ but makes up for it with an album that flattens out the highs and lows of their earlier albums into something that bridges pop and ballads better: there may be no full-out stadium-friendly pop numbers but there are no depressingly downbeat ballads either.

The production style of the record is a definite winner with a much larger focus on refining the sound, especially in the strings and brass, turning it into a more mature record than we’ve seen from them in the past. The addition of extra vocal time for Alan and Sam alongside a more solid package of songs makes this a worthwhile pick-up, just lacking that killer huge hit that will grab the attention of the mass public. Not that the mass public knows that makes a good record at the moment judging on the charts…

Post Author: Philip Lickley