Album no. three from Hopetoun Brown is not quite the same fare we’ve come to expect from the duo.
This time, Nick Atkinson and Tim Stewart have mixed it up a little, incorporating funk, brass, blues, and funky beats, while introducing synths to bring a new dimension to the music.
Vocals have always been an important part of the duo’s sound, and here are strident and layered, with echoed harmonies. ‘Don’t Let Them Lock You Up’ emphasises rhythm, their new direction indicated with first single You Know I Know, a percussion and brass-heavy number featuring vocalist Sophie Burbery (Little Bark), with fast-paced, sparring (self-described) “stoner rap” between Atkinson and Burbery.
Ashes in the Street adds another element, a blues ballad with Steve Abel on vocals, accompanied by a Hammond organ, and a lone trumpet, while Lonely Rail is minimalist – a blues ballad with minimum backing; the rhythm set by a loop of heavy footsteps, handclaps, and a hummed riff.
Recorded at The Oven, a tiny mezzanine studio in The Lab, ‘Don’t Let Them Lock You Up’ is a more layered and dense record from Hopetoun Brown, with an emphasis on new textures, and their trademark hopelessly catchy beats. There is much to discover here, but is this their best album? It just might be.