Happy Meal Ltd. HuMiLiaTeD. Her Majesty’s Latent Torpedo Disasters. Eschewing easy categorisation in their very name, HMLTD apparently stands for all and none of the above.
Turning heads for the last three years with their glam/punk/EDM/honest to god pop explosion, and tales of raucous shows complete with angels handing out lipstick amid the pungency of burning hair in their efforts for a truly multi-sensory live experience, their kaleidoscopic plume breathed much needed life to the notion of the ‘rock band’, an archetype in crisis struggling with creative stagnation and political irrelevancy.
Like Kraftwerk or Devo, this is a band underpinned with an ethos, fully realised right from their debut single, ‘Stained’. Dismantling gender boundaries as gleefully as they do with genre, their initial output presented a vision of masculinity free from its rigid demands for conformity. Accusations of ‘queer appropriation’ have arisen, with the band insisting on their act being an expression of their unadulterated identities, and an encouragement for society to do likewise.
Hate Music Last Time Delete signals an appetite to enter the mainstream and turn it inside out. Signing to big label Sony Music, and attracting the attention of Justin Tranter (collaborator of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber no less), their brand of sonic hedonism is given a deliciously sleek commercial appeal, adding further subversion to a band that sang of Mother Teresa ‘being stained’.
HMLTD EP wastes no time in its radio friendly affirmation with its first track, ‘Pictures of You’. A sultry smooth electro-pop banger, exploring narcissism and sexuality in the internet age, is confidently allowed to strut uninterrupted with their standard genre U-turns, all delivered with a Dave Gahan croon. Things heat up with the giddy euphoria of ‘Proxy Love’, club land bounce donks its way to baroque synth-pop, a paean to self-love peppered with cheesy string stabs. ‘Mannequin’ seamlessly follows, continuing their pre-occupations with identity and the body, and feeling like a spiritual successor to Roxy Music’s ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache’, before screeching to a halt with the dizzying stomp of ‘Apple of My Eye’.
The disparate cataclysm that was their first three singles have been refined and distilled into a satisfying cohesion, without compromising on their provocative blitz, and with their confident embrace of a new commercial direction, songs of masturbation and camera rolls are deceptively at home amid the Radio 1 pop climate. Jello Biafra instructed to not fight the media, but become it, and HMLTD EP looks set to mould pop in its own image, and it will look like their Jenkin van Zyl videos. Pretty good for a band yet to release an album.