Album review: Hockey – ‘Mind Chaos’

It’s fun, it’s bouncy, but is there more to their off-the-peg indie?

The government wants to bring in ID cards and independent businesses are crumbling to nothingness everywhere we look, but last time we checked we weren’t actually living in George Orwell’s 1984. Why, then, does there seem to have been a nationwide uniform memo circulated dictating that everyone has to dress the same? It’s not indie snobbery or fashion elitism but, since we all learnt how to walk vertically, clothing’s been a fair indicator of like-mindedness.

[a]Hockey[/a] are the aural manifestation of this: they look like [a]MGMT[/a] but sound more like [a]Mika[/a]. From the pseudo-[a]Virgins[/a] drawl, through the VanWyngarden headbands to the synths polished within an inch of their life, it’s as though they’ve followed a step by step manual of how to be ‘cool’ but forgotten the vital ingredient of actually having a heart.

It’s all very foot-tappy, bouncy and bushy-tailed, and there’s diversion to be found in the ‘Time to Pretend’-style nonchalant excess on debut single ‘Too Fake’ – irony? – and the lyrical car crashes of, among others, ‘Song Away’ (“I’m gonna write a truthful song over an ’80s groove/I’d like to let you know I’ll always be straight with you”).

It’s all a bit practiced though, with little sense this far of any individual vision or personality. There’s a shiny, echoing hollowness behind it all, that leaves you with an unsettled feeling. There’s respite with the understated opening of ‘Wanna Be Black’ before it all goes a bit power chorus, but too much of [a]Hockey[/a]’s first effort is just Take That in a pleather jacket.

The problem is not so much with the contents as with the packaging. ‘Mind Chaos’ is a pop record, and, as a pop record, it kind of works – it’s full of chart-friendly singles and sung by a bunch that are bound to find themselves doted on by 13-year-olds. But setting up [a]Hockey[/a] as credible artists is like extolling the romantic nuances of Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’ – all a little hard to stomach.

Lisa Wright

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