Weekend Intermission is our regular feature where we look at an artist or band not from the Nordic countries, just to mix things up a bit.
‘Honest Kid’ has been out since February but such is the volume of Nordic releases that we haven’t had a Weekend Intermission for ages.
I’m happy to put that right with this song from Hungary’s Dirty Slippers, a slightly odd name for a band but it might mean something profound in Hungarian! And it isn’t the oddest foot-related incident I can recall in the world of music.
I remember watching a Swiss artist called Marius Bear at the Reeperbahn Festival a few years ago. Marius sounded like George Ezra but ruined his act by performing his work barefoot with notably unattractive, puffy and sweaty size 12 feet. Then lo and behold he turned up as the Swiss entry at Eurovision last year and did the same thing, and not successfully. He should have borrowed some slippers.
So since it’s a prolonged weekend, what with Easter ‘n all (and one of their soc med posts suggests they are quite religious), I’ll slip the Slippers on right now, if you’ll pardon the pun.
There are four band members and if I hadn’t heard them before seeing a photo I would have thought the lady would be the vocalist, she has a slightly gothic Amy Lee look about her, but she’s the drummer.
Singer and guitarist is Lázár Lobo-Szaloky. He’s also their manager and he tells me they are award winners in Hungary, that they are the first Hungarian band to have recorded an album in the Abbey Road Studios in London where this song was produced by George Shilling (who’s worked with Oasis and Mike Oldfield), that they’ve played 1000 shows across Europe and that they recently played their first one in the UK, supporting Marseille, having been picked up by a number of regional radio stations here.
They’ve obviously got a big following in Hungary with three charting albums but the UK is a difficult market to crack as so many Nordic bands know. And this is their first English language song.
Have they got what it takes?
I think so. ’Honest Kid’ is a nostalgic look back on youth from a more mature perspective; to an era before Covid and war in Europe (and I suppose you could argue before smart phones, social media and 25 year olds with arthritis in their hands from too much manipulation of tiny keyboards as well as social exclusion from the real world).
You might take the view that the song isn’t quite honest enough because it wasn’t exactly utopia beforehand. Even the 1980s, the best decade for music, was marred by wars, oil crises, financial greed and Chernobyl. It wasn’t really the ‘quiet place’ they think it was.
On the other hand it is also a personal statement. Having slipped in a subtle “Let it be”…Lázár sings, “I won’t give in to those memories, I chose the way I lived”, underlining that individuality pervades every era, in the spirit of Sinatra’s ‘My way’.
Musically, it is indeterminate indie pop/rock with hints of the 1960s and of 1990s Brit Pop. Any reference to ‘kid’ will go down well in the UK, whether it throws up Deacon Blue’s ‘Real gone kid’, Elbow’s ‘Lippy Kids’ or the Gallagher brothers affectionate tirades at each other. You know what I mean, our kid?
Lázár gets a chance to shine with some fuzzy, jangly guitar towards the end while the lady drummer impresses with a neat little fill. There’s melody a-plenty, from beginning to end and contrasted by mournful cello, although I’d suggest they satisfy the ‘Spotify Maxim’ which is that you grab and hold the listeners’ attention in the first six seconds, which they don’t quite achieve here. The instrumental introduction could be halved.
Lázár’s vocal is slightly accented but he sings well and no-one would expect him to sound like a BBC newsreader.
(I’d also suggest – tongue in cheek! – that Lázár calls himself Lobo instead, a la Bono. It’s got a ring to it!)
‘Honest Kid’ is the first single of the band’s forthcoming album which they will record at the Abbey Road Studios this year and will release in the UK, and in Europe too.
Find them on:
Website: http://www.dirtyslippers.hu/ (apparently under development)