Embodying a brilliant post-hardcore hybrid of bands like Glassjaw, Refused, Rival Schools and Hot Water Music, Kent's Hildamay have steadily toured over the past 18 months with excellent debut EP We Loved, We Lost under their wing, having recruited and recorded with formidable frontman Tim Lawrence beforehand. Recording over the summer with fellow Kent noiseniks Feed The Rhino bassist Oz Craggs, the quintet disappeared in between bursts of touring to perfect their debut album, everything looked good and highly promising.
Nothing could have prepared however for frankly how good Miles Away is, a record that both channels much-loved sounds of old with something very new and very exciting and heaves with the kind of genuine grit and emotion that you don't always come by these days. This record merges deep opposites that flow within and without human emotion to an outstanding degree and is as emotionally uplifting as it is reflective. Lawrence's vocal performance feels unique and you believe what he's saying as if he's in the same room speaking to you.
The twelve tracks are twelve meditations on what happens when life inevitably moves you on, be that emotional or physical distance, and the music the band creates is both visceral and delicate to emphasise this. Lead single Changing The Key is a determined rager on sticking to your guns and doing what's right, a real sadness hidden within a core of unwavering acceptance while alternatively the title-track (a song that is one of the best this year has produced) is a much more longing and poignant anthem that won't give up despite the pattern that life has painted for its creators. Avenues throws around spiky alt-guitar lines that post-hardcore extraordinare Walter Schreifels would be proud of while Lawrence paints a picture of retrospective anger, "I can pretend I'm not bitter but I'm bitter to the core", before the band bring in an extended and unexpected shimmering and emotionally mirroring end-section that conveys flawless musicianship.
The more ethereal Consequence feels like a open glimpse into the thoughts of Lawrence as he walks alone on a streetlamp-lit night with confessions that "with a politician's eyes" he tries "to lie from time to time but underneath them lies the truth" before coming to the sad but strangely life-affirming in its recognition conclusion that "the consequence of argument leaves us questioning the state of things" and pushes "us all away", it's an honest and highly moving lyrical take on the emotional confusion that we all experience at times. The balance between positive and negative backdrops to these lyrical explorations is staggering too, both on paper and in sound, with Diminuendo's wry-smiled disappointment, "and even though I always knew you'd never find the time for me and you" not long followed by album closer Because I Cannot Sleep I Make Music At Night's horizon-gazing hopefulness, "all this time I was told that I belonged but I guess that I was wrong...I make music at night because I cannot sleep", the former feeling like an ultra-melodic Refused while the latter reminds heavily of Pavement's uplifting and understated sense of confidence in the self despite life's constant hardships.
This is an album of passion, honesty, emotion, mighty tunes and an individualism that certainly doesn't follow the crowd. This is an album that deserves to be heard.