The phenomenon of emo band members breaking off to embark on their own solo endeavours isn’t a new one, a fact that’s especially prevalent given how many of them seem to be out there. Obviously taking a fresh look at typical singer-songwriter fare is appreciated (see Slaughter Beach, Dog or Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties), but all too often, the default setting seems to be little more than a pared-back version of what could easily pass for the work of their main band.
And that’s pretty much beat for beat what Hussey is, the solo project of All Get Out frontman Nathan Hussey. While ‘Hitchens’ most certainly isn’t an attempt at trend-hopping, on the surface it doesn’t offer that much to really define this project from the myriad of other slightly atmospheric, downtempo indie-emo acts. By that token, it definitely sits well – there’s a hazy, vulnerable streak present in ‘Runner Up’ and ‘Oxford’ that’s always viewed favourably, and the inclusion of drums on the more standard indie-rock of ‘For Shame’ is a nice change of pace. Even so, Hussey, as a performer, isn’t exactly a distinctive or magnetic presence, and a lot of this album really blurs together.
It helps that, like many of these solo projects, ‘Hitchens’ really does find its feet in its writing. While the exploration of humanity through personal experience is par for the course, the way that it’s framed through the lens of a fictional character to represent said experiences is an interesting twist. It gives tracks like the pained ‘Lake Michigan’ the opportunity to incorporate that bit more detail that goes greatly appreciated. It’s definitely a niche idea that doesn’t always pan out as it should, but the fact that it’s here at all suggests that Hussey could aim beyond standardised indie-emo very easily.
Unfortunately, ‘Hitchens’ isn’t at that stage yet, showing flashes of real potential without anything truly solid to grasp onto. It’s definitely a good effort, but the confidence to step into the unknown could yield some truly excellent results that aren’t quite there yet. One to check out if you’re interested then, but next time could really prove to be Hussey’s defining moment.
‘Hitchens’ by Hussey is released on 12th January on Equal Vision Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)