Haunts – Love is Blind [EP]


Originally published at Sonic Dice, August 2009.

Dour London-based four-piece Haunts’ latest single might not exactly be a barrel of laughs, but it compensates in snotty punk attitude and rigid post-punk arrangements. Support comes from remixes of both the title track and other Haunts material, but Love is Blind remains the EP’s main event.

First impressions are good, the chunky drums may well inhabit a well-trodden path, but they storm down said trail propulsively and addictively. The drum riff recalls loads of things, from George Harrison’s Got My Mind Set On You, to My Sharona or Dance Dance and so on; even if you haven’t heard Love is Blind, you surely get the idea. Soon the track’s weapon of choice – a giant, bluntly staccato Queens of the Stone Age guitar riff – arrives and things are looking pretty positive. Ditto for the spaghetti western first line, half sneered, half sung, “I killed a man, I had no choice, it was him or me”; that’s definitely a cool opening gambit. The fuzzy, electronic-sounding bass has great depth, definite time and effort clearly having been expended upon its sound. Getting on towards Death From Above 1979 in its distorted tone, the bass supports the cleaner guitar well with a heavy groove. Unfortunately, Love is Blind fails to evolve much or unfold from its opening, and the chorus’ Horrors-style organ seems to send most other instruments on a coffee break. It fails to bring anything special to the track or the lyrically-simplistic chorus. The track eventually bogs down into a single-note bass riff, which is somewhere between Romantic Rights and Feel Good Hit of the Summer.

It’s something of a limited agenda that Haunts have got themselves here; danceable indie-post punk with thumping great cymbal-light drums, minimalist guitar and casiotone keyboards. Bearing all these aspects in mind, they’re seemingly trying quite hard to be an English version of The Walkmen. Accomplished though Love is Blind may be, you get the impression it never quite finds top gear. The staccato riff is good fun but pretty limiting, and the track doesn’t really transcend the sum of its parts. A slightly stilted, awkward atmosphere pervades; the song might be danceable, but you get the feeling it would prefer to stay leaning against a wall, self-consciously nodding its head. If Haunts were aiming intentionally for disinterested and gauche, then that doesn’t come across. On the whole Love is Blind follows similar lines as previous single Underground, only more restrained, not as loud and not as good.

Haunts’ remix arm Black Teeth get hold of Black Eyed Girl, taking it for a synthy but limited Midnight Juggernauts-lite joyride. The L’Amour La Morgue remix of Underground’s electro-tinged faux-splatterpunk is a radical departure from the original, no longer shamelessly ripping off the riff from Ink by Finch. The remix crashes Radiohead’s All I Need headlong into Linkin Park and is therefore rather good, even though it drags the snappy original out for just shy of seven not-all-that-eventful minutes. At any rate, we may hear more from L’Amour La Morgue in future, with remixes for acts as disparate as Flo Rida, Young Guns and Bring Me the Horizon in the pipeline. It all goes very Justice for the Pics Plox Love is Blind remix, initially disappointing with its obligatory remix handclaps and complete axing of the motif guitar and drum riffs. Eventually settling into a blocky, glitchy stumble, Pics Plox take their cues from the original’s dramatic organ sound, which renders the chorus especially monochrome and uninteresting. As far as remixes go it markedly differs from the original, erasing the most recognisable parts in favour of arguably-weaker aspects, namely the keyboards and words. The EP winds up with a demo version of Love is Blind that is pretty unnecessary. It adds nothing to the lead track save some paranoid keys and sounding like its being recorded inside a coke can. So the band improved the track for the album; great, I improve the taste of bacon by cooking it. Not so much an achievement as just the way it’s meant to be.

The biggest problem with Love is Blind as a track is the same problem with Love is Blind as an EP. As part of a grander scheme, it would probably be enjoyable; but as strictly speaking the sole original track on offer here, Haunts appear to be lacking in effort. You get three different versions of Love is Blind – original, remix and demo – on this quote-unquote EP. Woo. This just isn’t enough original material to warrant being called an EP, as a piece of work it’s too repetitive and would’ve benefitted from losing a track or two and being labelled as a single. Whether or not it’s been lost in record company translation, this is clearly just a single that’s been padded out to EP status. Love is Blind is advertised on Haunts’ Myspace as a ‘new single EP’; well decide, surely it’s one or the other, either a single or an EP. Insert ‘confused’ emoticon here.

5 out of 10.

Sonic Dice score: 3 out of 6

Love is Blind on Spotify

Black Records
Haunts on Myspace
Haunts on Last.fm

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