Nothing is as it seems in Paddy Hanna’s The Hill. Contrasting the swirling retro-pop of his sophomore offering Frankly, I Mutate this is a record of ripped abstraction and noir-pop obfuscation, where sounds are born out of atmospheric unease.
There’s also an overt cinematic scope to The Hill. ‘Last Of Their Kind’ plays like the Morricone’s ominous opening credit score to Sergio Leone western as the story is just about to be told. Indeed, this stylistic flourish is seen throughout The Hill, with the clicking beat and distant harmonies of ‘Cannibals’ continuing to establish this sonic milieu.
The contrast comes in Paddy Hanna’s songwriting. Whether it be the manic performance seen in the aforementioned ‘Cannibals’, the crooning murder-balled ‘Sinatra’, or the gentle introspection of ‘A Strange Request’, each song adds a tense edge to granduer contained within. Hanna takes us to somewhere with each song while still remaining in the same widescreen landscape.
The mystery and long winding road of ‘Howling At The Duke Of York’, steals the show. Awash with texture and engulfed in sound, this track encapsulates the noir-pop music Paddy Hanna is weaving throughout The Hill while also showcasing Hanna’s ability to both obscure and convey meaning within the sprawling production.
And so it goes, listening to The Hill is like watching a grainy, long-forgotten movie at an empty Drive-In at midnight, the kind that stays with you so much that you feel compelled to tell others about it, “I saw the strangest film last night and…”.