Simple, driving, and evocative, “Loaded” has the cool dry makings of an underground anthem about it. Embodying a musical vector that starts in the late ’60s with the Velvets (Loaded, in fact, was the name of the last true Velvet Underground album) and runs through ’70s Bowie, ’80s Smiths, and ’90s Oasis, The Idle Hands here deliver a casually brilliant, sharply-produced bit of neo-Britpop that’s positively resplendent in its matter-of-fact-ness, if that makes sense. Surely it outshines the majority of the either under- or over-thought-out indie rock music that’s all but strangling the internet (not to mention, this week, the city of Austin, Texas) by decade’s end. Almost always the amount of naiveté or frippery on display in a song is inversely proportional to the underlying musical solidity of the enterprise. “Loaded” is nothing if not sleek and to the point, even if the point is a world-weary one.
The ongoing trick for quality rock’n’roll, however, is how to keep the simple from being, simply, boring. “Loaded” catches and holds the ear in a number of ways. I like the rubbery synth line that traces a satisfying upward and downward path in the intro; I like the forceful but blasé baritone of singer Ciaran (no last name given), a voice at home with lyrics alternately cultivated and dissipated—bringing Morrissey (no first name given) to mind yet without sounding like a mindless acolyte. I like the somewhat unusual (in indie rock) use of internal rhyme—there’s nothing too strict going on here, but if you pay attention you’ll hear words being rhymed that do not always end a lyrical line. I like the perfect balance of fuzz and jangle in the guitar sound, and how neither sound overwhelms the song. And most of all I like the direct but vivid chorus, built upon the most basic three notes in the musical scale, just do re mi, but it’s all about putting them in the right order, to the right rhythm, with the right chords.
Featuring two Irish brothers and three Americans, the Idle Hands are based in Minneapolis and are readying their full-length debut for an American release this year. “Loaded” was originally on an EP released only in the U.K. in 2006; it will appear on the new CD as well. MP3 via One Track Mind.