FOE (aka Hannah Clarke) is an ominous 21-year-old pop princess and a self-proclaimed oddball, rife with rebellion and self expression – try Lissie, after turning to the dark side. However, with every listen of new album ‘Bad Dream Hotline’, she grows on me just that little bit more, slowly worming her way onto my iPod.
It’s difficult to know what to believe when trawling through this young artist’s colourful back story when presented with tales of Clarke being ousted from primary school as the other children believe her to be a Witch, whilst she openly hosts a perpetual love for PJ Harvey, Nirvana, Roald Dahl and chips. Thankfully, her music tells a similarly wacky tale: chords sequences that shouldn’t fit together, discordant blemishes that infect a lot of the tracks matched with smattering of un-tuned strings. And yet, I write this whilst rather enjoying what I’m hearing. How strange.
The album opens with ‘Ballad For The Brainkeepers’, an electric organ holds the song together, until about halfway through when the drums and bass take over in the chorus. It echoes of Panic! At The Disco in both their narratives, and sound: FOE‘s vocals nail every note and her falsetto is first class.
It’s evident that she’s no stranger to performance, and as a debutant I think this is a very impressive collection. The songstress is clearly of talent, and I would love to think that if ‘Bad Dream Hotline’ gets enough press, it could easily make its way onto the mainstream circuit soon. Album title-track ‘Bad Dream Hotline’ opens with a haunting, slightly down tuned nylon stringed guitar, leaving the listener awaiting the elated chorus you would come to expect from a title-track. But, we’re left high and dry on this one, as it doesn’t seem to go very far from there: a very strange choice to name the album after.
The rest of the album offers a whirlwind of genres; a journey through punk, grunge contaminated pop and an unexpected hint of glamorous charm. ‘Black Lodge’ is named after David Lynch’s televisions series, Twin Peaks. FOE professes that she would love to write music for Lynch or Tim Burton one day, which gives you an idea of what to expect from this album.
Overall, a well composed and delivered collection, with a prevalent quirk that upholds its individuality, which will hopefully act as a catalyst for sales.
Written by Ross Campbell