Mel formed The Hermit Crabs in January 2003 after a band that she was playing drums in was put on hold. That band was called California Snow Story. Time passed, old line-ups were exchanged for new, exciting shows were played at fun locations, sometimes in very small villages.
In 2005, Mel was a winner of the Burnsong national songwriting competition with a song called Feel Good Factor, and in January 2007 it became the title track of our debut release, a 4 track EP on the very excellent Matinée Recordings, which you can buy online right now!
More recently, in October 2007 Matinée released our first album, Saw You Dancing. We're super excited about it, and we hope to play lots of gigs to promote it in the near future.
Some reviews of ’Saw You Dancing’
’Glasgow’s The Hermit Crabs perfectly exhibit everything that makes the indie-pop genre wonderful on their debut album. The female vocals from Melanie Whittle are beautiful and rich with emotion. The rhythms are catchy, at times melancholy and at times playful. The production adds a lush sheen to the album, bringing out every chiming guitar note. And the use of violin and extra percussion gives the band it’s most unique quality.
While not straying too far from indie-pop bands like The Lucksmiths and Belle & Sebastian, this young band spans a number of genre influences on their debut, from the purely precise pop to bits of folk, country, and rock. Assisted at times by members of Teenage Fanclub and Camera Obscure, the Crabs illustrate how approachable their music can be to fans of a variety of styles of pop.
The album opens with the folk-tinged “Tonight,” a subtle opener that exhibits the wonderful addition violin can add to the genre. It’s followed by the up-tempo “Goodbye My Friend,” which has a nice, bouncy rhythm a la Dressy Bessy. “Closet Fan” is softer, more melancholy and introspective, while “Lean, Free Summer” is so playfully poppy, the hand-claps at the beginning sound completely at home.
My favorite song on the album is definitely “Bad Timing,” with a bit of a soulful sway and some added percussion to lend it depth. “Friend’s Folk Festival” is another highlight, with a sprightly pace and the catchiest lyrics on the album. I can’t help bobbing and singing along to “Feel Good Factor,” which perfectly suits its feel-good title. Even the more heartfelt tracks, like the folksy/country-tinged “Third Time Lucky” has a wonderful sway to it. The more mellow and somber “Soul Mate” closes the album with a gorgeous, echoed feel and light guitars.
The musicians here are clearly not newcomers. There’s a lot of talent in The Hermit Crabs, as evident on this debut full-length. These songs are well-written and perfectly produced, with a nice range of indie-pop influences. And there’s potential to stray even further from the set boundaries of the genre, making me eagerly anticipate a follow-up.’
Delusions Of Adequacy
’‘Tonight’ is the understated introduction to ‘Saw You Dancing,’ the debut collection from Glasgow’s Hermit Crabs. Though barely over two minutes in length, it aptly showcases what is to be expected throughout the album; acoustic and electric guitars drive the song before a flourish of violin in the second half, and lead vocalist and chief songwriter Melanie Whittle maintains a sober tone as she picks at the bones of a failing relationship (a recurring theme across the album’s ten tracks).
Indeed, it would be fair to say that this is not a ‘happy’ album, despite the presence of Burnsong competition winner ‘Feel Good Factor’ which extols the virtues of Glasgow’s bustling and well- renowned Sauchiehall Street. The majority of the music is delivered with a distinctly mournful air, and even when the pace picks up such as on ‘Goodbye My Friend,’ the song remains at heart a wry lament.
‘Third Time Lucky’ expresses regret, the pining for absent friends, and with its sweetly melodic guitar and harmony parts shows how well the Hermit Crabs can musically articulate sadness. Though sonically they stay downbeat throughout the album, rare hints that the band have more than sorrow up their sleeves, perhaps include the introductory handclaps on ‘Lean Free Summer’ and the flashes of humour in Whittle’s lyrics.
With the Hermit Crabs’ indie sound embellished by violin and occasional dabbles into additional instrumentation, and the tinges of folk which permeate the record, it is perhaps too easy to bring the likes of Belle & Sebastien and Camera Obscura to mind, and yet all the same impossible to avoid either comparison. Fans of both bands will appreciate this solid debut which should provide the band with a sure footing on which to build.’
Is This Music?
’Vintage photograph on the album cover? Check. Trebly and lovesick melodies sharp enough to rip a cardigan sweater? Check. Clever, library assistant-baiting lyrics such as ’I will be de Beauvoir, if you’ll be my Sartre"? Double-check. Needless to say, Scotland’s Hermit Crabs leave no page of the Scottish folk-pop fakebook unturned, but for those frustrated by a 2007 with no new music from either Belle And Sebastian or Camera Obscura, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The sweet, three-hankie ballad ’Closet Fan" finds the honey-voiced Melanie Whittle sighing about punk rock while confessing a secret love, and ’Bad Timing," with its driving beat and a tastefully grinding violin, is about as close to rocking out as the Hermit Crabs are likely to get. The group’s jangle-pop pedigree is fairly impeccable, with guest spots from original Teenage Fanclub drummer (and Camera Obscura manager) Francis Macdonald, and the album’s 10 bite-sized tracks breeze by with such a casual ease that it’s tough to find much fault.’
’Their EP was a delightful little treat ("Feel Good Factor" even makes another appearance here), but this full album from them is simply gorgeous! The band plays folky pop, using female vocals, brushed drums and the occasional violin or piano, sharing similarities (as well as relations) with fellow Glaswegians Camera Obscura and California Snow Story, with nods to Math And Physics Club and Belle And Sebastian, as well. Ten tracks of perfect little pop songs that are just as heartbreaking and poignant during the upbeat and jangly songs as they are during the slower ones! 10/10’
’There’s always been a touch of narcissism in the world of performing music. After all, there’s something vaguely rewarding about attracting a crowd of hundreds rather than dozens to watch you play your songs. We get that, and are fine with it. Lately, though the look-at-me factor’s been cranked up in the underground. No longer are acts content to play modest club shows and intimate basement appearances, they need the praise of the faceless Internet. And, faced with the reality that there are literally thousands of bands vying for online attention, it’s clear that a lot of ’em out there resort to every sort of gimmick progressive, art-rock overtures, adopting fashionably trendy sub-sub-genre stylings, hokey MySpace-based marketing to show us that, unlike the other half-million underground acts out there, they’re the real deal. These days, you have to have a gimmick to get attention, and, sadly, underground music’s frequently an exercise in gimmicks as often as it is in honest music-making. If you’re bored to death with the hordes of narcissistic types demanding our attention in every medium, Glasgow’s Hermit Crabs may just be for you. You see, instead of walloping us with some bullshit artistic manifesto, sucking up to tastemakers with a carefully chosen list of influences and calling all sorts of attention to themselves by breaking the mold, Saw You Dancing does things the old-fashioned way. The band sticks to pop fundamentals on its first full-length, delivering an album that’s about enjoying the simple things twee songwriting and basic pop melodies for what they are. In The Hermit Crabs’ hands, the simple things are still as effective as anything the zeitgeist-expanding corps of innovators has to offer. The Hermit Crabs keep it simple on Saw You Dancing, but don’t confuse that with plain. The band pours its heart into its 10-track effort, making twee melodies, jangle-pop guitars and large nods to folk-pop as captivating as, say, the latest electronic-music technological breakthrough. Probably more so. Singer/guitarist Melanie Whittle’s crisp delivery sits just on the good side of saccharine, as she leads her act through light, airy sing-song numbers that want nothing more to join the canon of pure-pop wonders. "Tonight" and "Lean Free Summer" take folk’s simple chord progressions and salt-of-the-earth simplicity to prop up breezy pop numbers that have just enough backbone and spirit to avoid falling into the twee-pop ghettos. "Bad Timing" takes the same rambling Americana that helped form Sons and Daughters’ last album, but uses it to grow support jangly, sparkly bedroom pop. "Feel Good Factor," recycled from last year’s EP of the last name, is a gem of a track that should appeal to everyone from Lucksmiths and Magnetic Fields collectors to casual, indie-curious budding popsters with little more than token exposure to the genre through Shins radio singles. Saw You Dancing isn’t the flashiest or most sophisticated pop record of the season, but that’s exactly why it works. The Hermit Crabs don’t need to hide behind underground fashions and pretense to make good music. Saw You Dancing still demands your attention but not like so many of its gimmick-ridden compatriots do, simply sticking to solid songwriting.’
’There’s a sweet simplicity to The Hermit Crabs’ music which I appreciate. Their debut album Saw You Dancing has 10 songs, at maybe a half-hour in length. But more than that it’s their music itself that’s simple and sweet: A singer with a pretty voice over breezy guitar-pop with a light folk slant, partly via violin. Handclaps here, harmonies there. Song-speeds from slow to mid-tempo. No flashy surprises or tricks, just songs. Songs about friends, about love, about what to do with your evenings, about the band’s hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.
My favorite songs form a trio at the album’s center. There’s “Lean, Free Summer”, with its vision of an idyllic summer spent hanging out with friends, free from responsibilities, though loneliness remains as an undercurrent. There’s “Bad Thing”, where dense guitar gives a slight rock edge but a pretty violin break lightens it. And the bouncy “Friend’s Folk Festival”, about the “what to do tonight?” question but really about a complicated secret love. Those songs all have a sense of despair and worry underneath, showing even the simplest pleasures are never that simple.
Saw You Dancing was preceded by a 4-song EP, with the album track “Feel Good Factor” plus three more songs that carry that same sense of simple but not simplistic. A “carefree” ballad actually ends the EP with a wicked mood hovering in the air. ’
’This is Matinée’s 10th anniversary, so in the onslaught of new fabulous indiepop records don’t miss out on their new batch of releases. Our friends from Glasgow, The Hermit Crabs, have finally completed their brilliant debut album Saw You Dancing. If you’ve heard any of their previous output you know this is an essential pop album! Jimmy, being the nice bloke he is, lets you download the instant hit "Friends Folk Festival". I’ve only heard this live before and the recording definitely adds a lot to it in arrangement and production.’
Heaven Is Above Your Head
’A five-piece Scottish Indiepop band with folk nudgings towards the upbeat rather than revolutionary; an arts fair instead of a guerilla war. The Hermit Crabs are walking (perhaps sideways) on rainbow steps of guitar lines, walking a few feet above you - not looking you in the eyes. It is cute; but it’s so smooth and comfortable, you won’t be concerned when this flood of soulful Scottish pop music pours into your very mind.’
Nothing But Green Lights
’Cosa si diceva dei Camera Obscura al primo disco? Che erano risciacquatura indiepop? Che non sarebbero mai usciti dal cono d’ombra di Belle & Sebastian? O che, nonostante tutto, "Eighties fan" ce la saremmo ricordata a lungo?
E’ il momento di imparare dagli errori, perchè gli Hermit Crabs vengono da un paradosso temporale a ripetere tutto quanto. Assomigliano tanto al gruppo di Tracyanne Campbell. Un gruppo di Glasgow identico a un gruppo di Glasgow che assomigliava tanto a un altro gruppo di Glasgow. Tante scatole cinesi, ognuna con una sorpresa.
Ma non basta un pomeriggio scozzese a fare una grande canzone, non basta imitare un disco per replicarne i sentimenti. Questo almeno lo abbiamo imparato. E sotto la t-shirt dei Camera Obscura, gli Hermit Crabs hanno un cuore che batte.
"Saw You Dancing" è un disco acerbo in tutti i modi giusti; è l’album di una band in divenire, che per il momento si accontenta di piccoli traguardi quotidiani ma che già evidenzia i sintomi della grandezza. I prerequisiti sono elencati come in un formulario: una lunga gestazione (alcuni dei pezzi risalgono al 2003), gli eccellenti rapporti di vicinato (produce Francis MacDonald dei Teenage Fanclub), il mood da perenne autunno cittadino. La differenza - o per meglio dire la somiglianza – però la fa il il talento di Melanie Whittle, che da autrice osserva, ricorda, e all’occorrenza rimpiange, accarezza con voce di velluto i dieci brani dell’album e ribadisce che la magia del pop made in Glasgow sta tutta nell’abilità del narratore, come in un gioco di prestigio visto mille volte ma ancora capace di lasciare il pubblico a bocca aperta.
I pezzi veramente compiuti qui dentro sono pochi: i puri arpeggi scottish di "Tonight", l’ennesimo impalbabile elogio della timidezza di "Closet Fan", l’allegria campagnola da storia d’amore di "Friend’s Folk festival", e soprattutto il perfetto buonumore di "Feel good factor", il suo giro di basso, la splendida voce di Melanie che dipinge Sauchiehall Street (la via dello shopping di Dublino) con tinte più vivide di qualsiasi quadro e di qualsiasi storia, consegnandola ad un buonumore così tangibile da potersi toccare con mano. Come si diceva? La ricorderemo a lungo.
Ma ciò che affascina di "Saw you Dancing", più ancora della sonnecchiosa bellezza da coperte ancora calde, è la promessa che sussurra; una promessa sottolineata dalle sue stesse incertezze, e per questo destinata a diventare migliore. Sono i frammenti amari e desolati di "Free, lean summer", le alternanze vocali sixties di "Third Time Lucky", improvvisi bagliori in canzoni imperfette, incompiute. E anche i fallimenti come "Bad timing" servono a convalidare la sensazione di un album vivo e lucido.
Se il singolo era un indizio, questa è la prova, inoppugnabile e definitiva, che i giovani redenti e delusi che lavoravano da Marks & Spencer, e che poi disperati lavavano i capelli con il miele per farsi amare, adesso si rintanano sotto le coperte ad ascoltare musica punk, per proteggersi dal mondo. Non è cambiato niente, tutto si è rinnovato nel ciclico miracolo chiamato scottish pop.’
’I’m going to be honest: I got interested in The Hermit Crabs because of their name. And they don’t disappoint, either. The Hermit Crabs are another twee band, but I think they’re even cuter than Math and Physics Club. Their songs jangle along super sweetly, and lead singer Melanie Whittle has a gorgeous voice. Fans of Camera Obscura and The Essex Green will find something to love in this Scottish quintet (alternatively, they might totally hate them for sounding too similar).’
Minneapolis Fucking Rocks
’The Hermit Crabs stammen aus glasgow, schottland. damit eigentlich schon verwunderlich, wie sie den weg auf das label Matinée Recordings geschafft haben. sei’s drum. so war die entfernung zur entdeckung kurz und verbindlich. denn alles, alles, was auf diesem label das licht der welt erblickt, wird ’überprüft’. außerem sind die crabs insofern keine fremden mehr, da die hälfte der vierköpfigen band bei california snow story arbeitete: melanie whittle: guitar and vocals und des mckenna : bass guitar. 2003 formierten sie the hermit crabs, mit im boot waren außerdem: john ferguson: lead guitar und tony mcdonald : drums. im dezember letzten jahres kam dann die erste ep "feel good factor" heraus und nun folgt am 01. oktober das debut full length album: "saw you dancing". der titel gibt schon einiges vor, man kann ahnen, in welche richtung das gehen wird. auch das cover hat diesen leicht charmanten indiepopcharakter. aber vergessen werden sollte nicht die folknote, die die wunderbaren melodien immer wieder umspült! zum reinhören bitte hier und hier bemühen. matinèe hat es bisher sehr gut geschafft, ohne mp3s auszukommen. wenngleich es das ’einhören’ erschwert, habe ich doch respekt vor dieser variante des umgangs mit labeleigener musik.’
’De jongens en meisjes van het Matinée label maken overuren. Eerder dit jaar brachten ze al leuke releases uit van de Lucksmiths en de Math and Physics Club en nu brengen ze een album van The Hermit Crabs uit. En alsof dat niet genoeg is komt binnenkort de verzamelaar The Matinée Hit Parade uit. The Hermit Crabs komen uit Glasgow en maken frisse en vederlichte indie-pop. Wat dat betreft zitten ze in het verlengde van stadsgenoten Belle and Sebastian en Camera Obscura. ’Saw You Dancing’ is een heerlijk zomerse plaat met songs als Feel Good Factor en Friend’s Folk Festival die je maar niet uit je kop krijgt. De vocalen van Melanie White zijn in één woord prachtig. De band krijgt bovendien hulp van Frances Macdonald van de Teenage Fanclub.’
’Os The Hermit Crabs são uma simpática banda de Glasgow, que certamente cresceu a adorar os Belle and Sebastian, companheiros de cidade e de uma adolescência feita de tempos difíceis, do aparecimento das primeiras borbulhas ao estranho e iniciático beijo de língua - não necessariamente por esta ordem. «Saw You Dancing», primeira aventura do quinteto, é um disco onde reina a simplicidade, mostrando que muitas vezes não é necessário ir ao fim do mundo para mergulhar nas águas cristalinas de um oceano pop sem ondulação.Como Azeitão tem as tortas, Palmela o moscatel e o Porto as francesinhas, Glasgow encontrou também o seu filão: uma pop narcisisticamente perfeita capaz de pôr, o mundo inteiro, a fazer figura de eterno adolescente. Uma estreia auspiciosa a que o Fusco oferece 3,75 na escala da acne juvenil.’
Some reviews of the ’Feel Good Factor’ EP
’Can pop be as cute as this? I just love it when singers allow themselves small "cha-cha-cha’s" or "ai-ai-ai’s", like they do here. The Glasgow folk-tinged indiepop-band The Hermit Crabs has just released their brilliant debut "feel good factor EP" on Matinée Recordings, and this really is music with a high feel good factor. The band was started in 2003 by Melanie Whittle (guitars, vocals) and Des McKenna (bass), when their old band California Snow Story were put on hold (we posted about CSS in another eardrums-post recently). John Ferguson (lead guitar), Ali King (violin, keyboards and percussion) and Tony McDonald (drums) complete the line-up. Their sound is not too different from Melanie and Des’ old band, and bands like Camera Obscura, early Belle and Sebastian and maybe even The Go-Betweens can also be used as references for their sound. Their EP is filled with four lovely songs, and it’s hard to pick stand-outs here. All of them are cute popsongs with lyrics worth listening to. The Hermit Crabs are currently working on their debut album, planned for release this spring. Some of the tracks on the album are produced by Teenage Fanclub’s Francis McDonald. The Hermit Crabs is definitely a band to watch in 2007.’
’It’s early spring, a Saturday afternoon, light breeze with enough of winter left so you need a modest sweater: birds singing but muted, thawing; kids down the block, playing; a lone dog way off, more an echo than a bark. The sun is sloughing off February and March. What you think and how you feel—these are what you get with Hermit Crabs in their debut, Feel Good Factor. (Matinée Recordings)
Like their musical home-town neighbors, and significant influence, Camera Obscura, Hermit Crabs touch you initially through guile, but hold on to you with a combination of solid musicianship, chemistry, and the insouciance of lead singer Melanie Whittle.
Don’t expect any messages—this is soft-core passion and whimsy, after all-from Glasgow’s latest band-to-be-heard. Irony, yes. The four-member Hermit Crabs, as with most good indie-pop bands, require, in order to “work,” a lead vocalist who can “do” subtle, wry, and, especially, ironic in a single phrase. (The last of these, irony, is a necessary requirement for good, light-hearted pop music.)
Whittle has no problem here. Her voice, loaded with charm, has about it a kind of lilting, sing-song quality, which is what you’d expect in this genre; Whittle pulls it all off with more confidence than anyone I’ve heard in a while.
This sound, when it’s good, as it almost always is in Camera Obscura’s work, for example, requires vocals that express a put-upon exuberance and, when necessary, a finely drawn sarcasm. Again, no problem for Whittle at all. .
From the very beginning of the opening, title track, you’re pretty sure you’re coming back. Then, midway into the tune, Whittle interjects an improvisational “cha, cha, cha;” later, an “ai, yi, yi”. It’s sneaky, beguiling: the girl’s got it going, no doubt.
Though less acerbic (in a highly relative way) than Camera Obscura, Hermit Crabs’ music has the hooks and flow not only to reach out to you, but also to caress you.
Three other songs complete Feel Good Factor. Of these, “Vegan Vows,” is the best. It’s whimsy and froth. It’s familiar, but off beat enough to hold you: kinda like what you feel on certain Saturdays in early spring.
I believe this band plans an LP later this year. It’s something to be anticipated.’
’You’d be forgiven for expecting a Dymaxion style spy thriller two minutes of mayhem upon hearing the opening bass line. Instead we get that same feeling as we did back when we missed Belle and Sebastian so much and felt they had disowned their sound and a little 7” single called 80’s Fan fell onto out turntables and so we fell in love with Camera Obscura the way you can sometimes, instantly forgetting what you’d at one point felt you couldn’t live without. And so I’ve long since lost interest in Camera Obscura more out of a desire to discover new bands than that I feel they are rubbish. And here we are reminded of how brilliant they first were by the little known The Hermit Crabs, it could be a Camera Obscura song but since when was that a bad thing? Feel Good Factor does everything you’d hope it would, the kind of upbeat song that’ll have you clapping your hands and skipping round your room like you’ve just got your hands on a copy of Tigermilk’s original vinyl pressing. Along with the recent The Pines reissue this is essential listening.’
Fat And Confused
’Yeah, yeah, yeah, so The Hermit Crabs might sound pretty much similar to Camera Obscura. But, so what? There aren’t many better bands to sound like, after all.
‘Feel Good Factor’ is a lovely little ditty, seemingly dedicated to the good people of Sauchiehall Street in that there Glasgow. It’s almost a polka, or a waltz, or something. It’s a bit continental in parts, anyway.
And it’s a thousand times better than anything Belle and Sebastian have done in the last four or five years.’
’Have you heard the new Hermit Crabs single on Matinee records? First time I gave it a spin I thought I had put the wrong disc in the slot. ‘Hang on,’ I said to myself, ‘this is Camera Obscura’. And I was right. Because really, all four cuts on the Feel Good Factor EP carry not just the patina of Camera Obscura, but also the very fibre of their being. And in case you are wondering, that’s not a criticism. Not at all. Every great artist has copied ones who have gone before. Why, didn’t we all make comments about Belle And Sebastian when ‘Eighties Fan’ first graced our stereos? And did we care? Did we refuse to clutch the then fledgling Obscura to our twee collective hearts? Did we buggery. We danced and we sang. We shot fireworks in the sky and we scratched their name in love hearts on our pencil cases.
And so it should be with The Hermit Crabs. Four songs of sweet succinct Pop that snaps and crackles in all the right places. A recorder tweets and a tambourine shuffles. Guitars tingle and a voice sings about being making vegan vows, china girls, wonderful whirligigs and the glorious people of Sauchiehall Street.
Make space on your pencil case.’
’The Hermit Crabs are a Scottish based band who boast two ex members of California Snow Story amongst their ranks. The Feel Good Factor EP is their début release although after listening to the EP you may get the impression that you have heard it before as it is a pretty similar output to California Snow Story and fellow Scots Camera Obscura whose history is entwined with both bands. You can guess that the band sound like after that de____________scription but that said it is a pretty impressive EP with four pretty strong songs. It is the self titled lead track, which won an award during the Scottish Burnsong writing competition, that takes the glory. It is a story about Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street which is also a popular night time destination. The song compares night and day on said street as well as the songwriter’s love of their home city. It’s a lovely song and the unique Scottish take on indie folk complete with gentle female vocals & traditional instruments seeps through the track as well as taking hold on the rest of the EP. Lovely! The Feel Good Factor EP is out on Matinée Recordings shortly limited to a 1000 copies. The band are working on their début album which is due for release later this year.’
’Matinée Recordings is a kind of sanctuary for endangered indiepop / twee artists from late eighties to late nineties, but sometimes one new band joins the family, it was the case for Math and Physics Club, now this is the turn of The Hermit Crabs, from Glasgow, Scotland, with this 4-track EP soon to be followed by a full-length. Formed January 2003, The Hermit Crabs are Melanie Whittle (songwriting, guitar, keyboards and vocals), John Ferguson (lead guitar), Des McKenna (bass) and Tony McDonald (drums). Recently, Francis MacDonald from Teenage Fanclub helps out with production. The four songs offered here are classic indiepop tunes under the influence of bands like Camera Obscura or Belle & Sebastian.’
’Principio di conservazione indiepop: nulla si crea e nulla si distrugge, tutto si trasforma. Gli Hermit Crabs (che traduce in I Paguri, ma non facciamogliene una colpa) a prima vista possono apparire come l’ultimo e meglio riuscito tentativo di clonazione dei Camera Obscura, mentre in realtà nascondono al loro interno la metà esatta dei California Snow Story, titolari di un bell’EP per Shelflife ben quattro anni or sono e da poco ritornati in attività. E’ da lì che provengono la graziosissima voce di Melanie Whittle (che nei CSS stava dietro i tamburi) e il basso di Des McKenna, impegnati a dare corpo alla prima grande canzone del 2007: "Feel Good Factor" è ritmica quadrata, voce gentilmente pigra a mezza via tra cantilena ed indolenza, un violino acuto e quella nebbiolina che si insinua strisciante tra il buonumore del titolo, e assomigliando parecchio alle ultime cose di Tracyanne Campbell e soci è davvero difficile fare a meno di cantarla in ogni istante. Identici elementi tornano in combinazioni appena meno brillanti a visitare gli altri tre pezzi del disco, con leggere variazioni malinconiche che aumentano tra la pioggia di "China Girl" e si assottigliano in mezzo alle note di piano della vivace - beh, per modo di dire - "Vegan vows".’
’In this over-saturated world where everyone with a record collection and a cheap home-recording setup can make a shot at becoming a minor-league indie-rock sensation, it’s all about gimmicks. There are thousands of other bands out there vying for a slim slice of audience attention, and if you don’t establish yourself in a minute, you’ll lose 85 percent of listeners. It’s about flash, gimmicks and reeling listeners in right off the bat.
Glasgow’s Hermit Crabs offer a return to the sacred art of simple songwriting. The band’s debut EP captures four cuts of sure-and-simple pop that doesn’t need to charm its way into our ears with clever allusions to its predecessors, finely tuned guitar tones or any one of a dozen or so other pretenses picked up in an art-school cafeteria. Sure, it might cost The Hermit Crabs a few listeners right off the bat, but it’s sure to make up for it where it counts: fans of pure, uncut pop.
Built around the title track, a winner in Scotland’s Burnsong songwriting competition, this EP’s a carefully constructed balance between straightforward pop and cleverly layered instrumentation. "The Feel Good Factor" centers on singer/guitarist Melanie Whittle’s simple vocals, which are rich with melody without overpowering the rest of the track. A bubbly, elastic bass line ties together a jangly guitar and keyboards for a package that’s strangely suited to rainy-day bedroom moping or a sunshine-filled afternoon in the park. "Vegan Vows" is a more economical arrangement, with brittle acoustic strumming and piano melodies ushering the band through a tale of twentysomething heartbreak that skirt melodrama to embrace the everyday bummers of early adulthood. "I Spend My Time" and "China Girl" round out the effort with light, breezy jangle-pop.
Despite or probably because of The Hermit Crabs’ low-key approach to songwriting, Feel Good Factor delivers an enjoyable romp through pure pop. At the end of the day, when the gimmicks wear out, novelties are packed away and songwriters’ tricks go flaccid, that’s all that matters isn’t it? Keep an eye on The Hermit Crabs given a little more time to percolate with its full-length Scotland might have another minor sensation brewing.’
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