Hijak Oscar - BlackSheepMoneyBox

posted 6 Jun 2009, 08:55 by The Editor

Social Immunity

Hijak Oscar are most famous for their appearances on T4's MobileAct Unsigned programme, a battle of the bands style show with the ultimate prize of losing that unsigned tag and gaining all the associated fame and fortune which that would bring. Making it to the semi-finals was a big achievement, off the back of which they sold respectable numbers of their debut self-titled album and toured extensively. 
However it did not lead to a record deal either of the T4 variety or the more usual kind.

Two years on Hijak are back with their second album, BlackSheepMoneyBox, and a somewhat changed line-up for their next crack at success. With a solid fanbase to plug it to and clearly no small amount of media-savvy and dedication it would be hoped that this release would really help to push the band to the next level and possibly even secure that elusive record deal. The first impressions are promising; the artwork (by artist Jon Procter) is stunning and fits Hijak's aesthetic well; the faux-media delivery of the intro track, The Ambiguous Report, only reinforces this. "Something has happened somewhere" we are told, "but what it is, we cannot say" as movie-style ominous music accompanies the occasionally shaky voice acting. What is quickly becomes apparent on first track proper, Social Immunity, as bluesy piano and sparse drumming are accompanied by singer Tim Fox's vocals and occassional dark laughs to strong effect. This is the formula which has taken Hijak to where they are today and is a formula from which they seem loath to deviate for the sixteen tracks of the album. As such the listeners interest is invited to wander as blues-by-numbers tracks are trotted out. There are the uptempo numbers to get you moving (Cral Heather, Reunion Ball) , the slow contemplative numbers (This is a Warning, Child) and those inbetween that carry you between.

Hijak Oscar

After a few listens to the album the ability to distinguish a decent number of the songs still eludes. The uptempo songs and sections are particularly guilty as no band members seems to step up and add something original to the breakdowns. "It's always the same" opines Fox in Reunion Ball which is an apt summary; as is the closing remark, "it's always a goddamn shame," because tracks such as Echoes, with its gang of vocalists, and Greed highlight the best that the band have to offer. Genuinely catchy tunes are complimented by sparse arrangements that only call on instruments when needed allowing the musicians in question to shine.

"We are witnessing a monumental event" we are told in The Ambiguous Report, but the evidence on show suggests otherwise. The band create an enjoyable aesthetic and are clearly a talented bunch, but ultimately a fear of straying far from safe territory causes BlackSheepMoneyBox to drag.


Robert Tenford
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