Coco Hames – Coco Hames

Album Review by Will Fitzpatrick | 27 Mar 2017
  • Coco Hames
Album title: Coco Hames
Artist: Coco Hames
Label: Merge
Release date: 31 Mar

From the opening salvo of When You Said Goodbye and I Do Love You, you’ll immediately know whether or not you’re going to love Coco Hames. With their arrangements teetering between Dusty Springfield’s joyous melancholy and the classic Phil Spector sound, it sounds like another indie-pop classic in the making – but then we’re wrongfooted entirely as hints of garage-pop, blue-eyed soul and country balladry enter the fray… the Nashville resident does it all, and without sounding like compilation album-style genre bingo to boot.

See, it’s one thing to master all these individual styles and pull off passable imitations, but it’s another entirely to stir so much vibrant personality into the mixing bowl that it all comes across as one delicious concoction. Hames’ instantly-arresting voice is the key to the whole thing, but there’s not a single song here that won’t have you reaching for the repeat button at some point. The icing on this particular cake comes courtesy of penultimate track Tiny Pieces, originally penned by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson for his Bash & Pop project, and served here as an aching duet with John McCauley of Deer Tick: the contrast between their voices is simple, sweet magic, and the song ain’t bad either.

OK, this sort of retromanic pop writes its own logical criticism in a way (repeated formulas, looking backwards instead of forwards, etc etc), but when it’s done this well, it’s a timely reminder that the true logic of pop is music that communicates directly with the head and the heart. Here are ten songs that will be impossible to remove from either, making the correct answer to ‘Will I love Coco Hames?’ a resounding yes.

Listen to: When You Said Goodbye, I Don’t Wanna Go, Tiny Pieces