A syncopated bass line introduces the first studio album by English post-punk formation HMLTD, entitled West of Eden, released at the beginning of 2020. The bass line is accompanied by these words:
“Three years ago I said/
The West is dying right underneath my nose/
And I’ll be so glad when it finally goes”.
A new post-punk classic by HMLTD
The record is an anti-hymn of late-stage capitalism in western countries. A kind of cyberpunk lullaby that ravages the cultural remains of the occidental world, deconstructing the digital alienation that permeates every aspect of our everyday life. Ironically, but in a miserable way, the project unintentionally anticipated the devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic would have brought to our societies in the months that followed.
A heavy doom-laden tone of West of Eden is perceivable in the first track, The West is Dead. An obstinate electronic tune recites an epitaph for the misery of the souls of the XXI Century. Then, things set off with LOADED, an electronic dance-punk song all centered on the ever-rising social inequalities and the dramatic intolerance that they can produce:
“My home and my possessions, they rendered me a slave/
So I set my heart free, I went home and blew it all away/
The espresso machine drip, the plasma screen is playing/
The hum of the V8 whip, baby go home blow it all away”
Bits of pop culture through the apocalypse
This album’s peculiar trait remains its intrinsic eclectic style, a post-postmodern take on western pop culture blended with its unsolvable philosophical problems. So after these two songs, the listener confronts The Ballad of Calamity Jones, an instrumental spaghetti-western influenced track, and To The Door. They both evocate the epic soundtrack of a world constantly on the verge of its apocalypse.
Another highlight on the record is Satan, Luella and I, a post-punk tune merged with an art-pop approach to the melody and the songwriting. It also shows distinct production choices on all the album: the choirs and clean guitar arpeggios in the background and the vintage strings section.
The rest of the setlist swings between more electro-punk tunes (Mikey’s Song), straight narrative post-punk songs reminiscent of The Birthday Party (Joanna, Where’s Joanna) and more aggressive punk tunes (Death Drive).
The last song, War is Looming, is a twisted-like saloon ballad with a cryptic gloomy tone. It represents the ending of this musical funeral lamentation, in which HMLTD remind the listener to:
“Wake up darling, morning’s breaking/
The World is ending/
But it’s fine cause all/
We ever want and we ever were is lost in time”
You can find West of Eden on Spotify.