Hailing from Yorkshire, Hands Off Gretel are here with their crowd-funded, self-released second album, ‘I Want The World’, continuing the buzz generated from 2016’s ‘Burn The Beauty Queen’. They’ve just got over a significant PledgeMusic related hurdle, too.
Many bands have emerged in recent years that are very clearly riot grrrl-inspired, but there’s enough to here to help them stand out from the pack.
Taking just as much from Brody Dalle and Courtney Love, as well as the more pop leanings of P!nk, vocalist Lauren Tate is the star of the show here, switching immediately from a snarled delivery to a near whisper, then to a full-throated scream at the drop of a hat.
We’re straight into first gear with ‘Kiss Me Girl’, an LGBT anthem in the making. ‘S.A.S.S.’ and ‘Big Boy’ set up the defiant lyrical narrative, with the latter being more punk rock.
The slower pace of ‘It’s My Fault’ also serves as a highlight, with more angular guitar lines, and Tate continues with bringing the more curled-lip delivery and the hooks in equal measure. The record’s title-track showcases more aggression, with both the faster and slower sections packing a lot of punch.
‘Freaks Like Us’ is a nice respite of sorts, and may be very poignant for some; many bands try their hand at these kinds of lyrics, but you believe Tate. Even if the pre-chorus of ‘Milk’ is a dead ringer for Nirvana‘s hit ‘Heart-Shaped Box’, it still keeps up the intensity. ‘Fingers’ is very much from the The Distillers/Hole book, and lyrics like “Try kicking them instead” will again inspire many.
Sometimes it feels like some sections could be cut out, and possibly even some songs; albums like this you generally feel are best when they’re on the shorter side. The mood and refrain of ‘My Friend Said’ is a little Marmite too, in that you’ll either love it or it’ll grate on you, and the same can be said of the tinkly xylophones peppered across the album. However, ‘Rot (All The Good Things)’ is a great slice of harmonically rich powerpop to end proceedings.
Hands Off Gretel exude attitude, endearing qualities, and some pop sensibilities that can help them stand out among the other grunge revivalists. This album may have an immediate energy, yet with every listen it gets more infectious. ‘I Want The World’ is a statement of intent; a defiant pushback against people who bring you down, and this offering should push Hands Off Gretel to greater heights.