In The Box Seat LP

It’s 1997! Liam and Patsy are on the cover of Vanity Fair, Hayze are lighting Cuban cigars with £50 notes as the pile of dead and bruised A+R persons, fighting to kiss their feet, gradually piles up, and ‘Lost Myself Again’ is only kept off number one by that Elton John song.

‘Bring On The New Messiahs! (again)’ bawls NME, while some gutsy lad-mag hears from singer Glen Carle why ‘It’s cool to care’. ‘They’re fookin’ A, ‘ drawls fey impresario Noel Gallagher. ‘If they were any better, they’d be nearly as good as me and our kid.’

Ow! Damn that alarm clock! Yes, I do remember ‘Be Here Now’. My head hurts and my nose.

Hayze, formed in 2003, are clearly in love with the sounds and dreams of that era. At first listen, these jump out at you (along with other influences stretching back to 1990 and beyond) to the extent that ‘In The Box Seat’ can seem like a museum piece.

Of all the Britpop suspects, Hayze are closest to Cast – check the wide-eyed idealism, the doughty positivity and also (too obviously at times) in the vocals and the sound. When the songs are trite or humdrum, this grates. Of course it’s listenable, but it doesn’t threaten to soar, for all the effort.

Whoa! Hang on, sourpuss. Yes, there’s some ordinary stuff here, and for some reason this seems to be mostly packed in at the start. And do you know what, I’m starting to be charmed rather than turned off, as many of these songs are truly beautiful. The artless, c’mon-people lyrics that annoy in a lumpen thing like ‘Sky’ – why are so many songs about flying completely earthbound? – are downright heart-breaking on the stately, compassionate ballads, ‘Not Completely Right’ and ‘Think About It’.

There are a few songs later on that tip the balance in Hayze’s favour. ‘Lost Myself Again’ is fast, it jangles, and does so quite close to the edge of the world itself and ‘Almost Home’ ain’t far behind. In the way of Teenage Fanclub, prime Oasis or even the La’s, Hayze’s best songs don’t come across as rocket science, but are clearly timeless. Come on, the world will never have so many uplifting, perfect pop songs that there can’t be room for another!

You have a choice with Hayze. You can play Britpop drinking games, taking a shot each time you hear an obvious influence (you’ll be quite ill), or you can tolerate the dips into mediocrity and celebrate a band who wear their heart on their sleeve and frequently write songs good enough to touch yours. For me, it’s the latter.

Written by McLaughlin on

Stuart McLaughlin was a regular write for [the-mag] and was frequently seen in live music venues in search of great new music.
Stuart McLaughlin

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