Barely 18 months has passed since their freewheeling debut, Boronia, was released and it’s already time to get excited for a new Hockey Dad album. So, who’s in? Not me. At least, I wasn’t. Let me explain…
I have always been a big fan of the tag-team punk rock dynamic, ever since I first discovered bands like The White Stripes and, later on, The Kills and The Black Keys. However, for all its raw, no frills charm, forging a creative trajectory in the narrow space these bands have given themselves has proven a struggle for some. Without fresh ideas, the no-nonsense two-piece goes from lean and mean to gaunt and banal quite quickly.
On the new LP Blend Inn Hockey Dad collide with a singular problem; they outdo themselves with their own proficiency.
While the buzz for Hockey Dad’s new album was growing, I couldn’t help but think it was too much, too soon, and my enthusiasm for Zach Stevenson (guitar/vocals) and Billy Fleming’s (drums) next effort dampened. Even the promising lead single I Wanna Be Everybody did little to suppress my inkling that I wasn’t ready for 12 more songs about debauched summers spent skateboarding and hanging out down the beach.
So, when the embargoed release of the album landed in my email last week, I reclined in my chair, hit play and started to dig into a slice of humble pie while the riotous Blend Inn unfolded.
I discovered that I was still gripped by that infectious Hockey Dad sound. The first few tracks are replete with frequent and inventive hooks over uncomplicated, yet more mature songwriting. Even the lyrics, while still jocular and witty, are more introspective this time around, contemplating homesickness and the band’s struggle for self-identity.
It is fair to say that Blend Inn is a bit top-heavy, with arguably the best moments coming within the opening 20 minutes. That said, you would do very well to find a better five-track run on any album this entire year. The Stride taps into that peculiar Mac Demarco-esque swagger – smelly, but self-confident – and, while neither an upbeat nor swashbuckling opener, it is loveable straightaway.
The aforementioned I Wanna Be Everybody bursts onto the scene to provide Blend Inn with its biggest ‘YOLO’ moment, before the moody Danny shifts the tone of the album brilliantly. Stevenson’s wailing vocals are a real treat here.
With Hockey Dad’s superb repertoire of banger and ballad deployed by the halfway mark, it’s a shame that the band are unable to spread their wings even further. Maybe I’m just being a spoiled brat. ‘First world problems’, or something, after such a rampant opening.
No doubt, not all fans of Hockey Dad will share my opinion, tracks Disappoint Me and Where I Came From proving that the energy well has far from run dry.
It can’t be denied that Hockey Dad have made impressive strides with Blend Inn, a collection of addictive songs that will be more than enough to keep their fans and audiences enthralled.
Hockey Dad live:
Friday, March 2 – Badlands, Perth WA
Saturday, March 3 – The Gov, Adelaide SA
Friday, March 9 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday, March 16 – Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
Saturday, March 17 – Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane QLD