In 2011 a Welsh duo Right Hand Left Hand released a debut album called Power Grab. This wasn’t just a clever title, the music within was full of clever ideas and forward thinking composition. In the intervening years Right Hand Left Hand have played countless gigs and festivals and supported Super Furry Animals, Future of the Left, Los Campensinos and the Mae Shi to name an illustrious few. Now they have returned with their second self-titled album Right Hand Left Hand.
Lead single ‘Tarts and Darts’ picks up from where Power Grab left off, but this time they have expanded their sound by adding layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of devastating riffs that starts to redefine post-rock. From the opening layered riff making Right Hand Left Hand sound like a different band. The time off appears to have focused them more and the math elements are more pronounced than on previous tracks. By the half way mark, when ‘Tarts and Darts’ starts to build toward its monumental conclusion, you’re totally swept along with its vim and vision.
The album doesn’t start this way however. ‘Seat 18c’ eases us into the album gently. There is a slight abrasive feel to the proceedings, but through layered guitars and lyrical drumming and percussion ‘Seat 18c’ moves forward until its delightful outro. This then leads in nicely to ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’. In a matter of seconds the intensity levels have been heightened and there is an element of menace that the opener was missing. Another subtle difference is that there are lyrics. This lyrics don’t just tell a slightly surreal tale, but add a nice change of texture of tone to opening track ‘Seat 18c’. However this break is fleeting as the remainder of the album is mostly instrumental. If ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ was heavier and more erratic, ‘Jack Churchill’ is reminiscent of the opener. It’s a slow burner that has more in common with Kasabian’s third album than post-rock. Atmospheric guitars swell while synths throb and bass ripples all the while a massive repetitive beat keeps things moving forward. It’s like Kraftwerk played at 45 RPM!
The ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear’ is a stand out moment. The music acts like soundtrack to a B-Movie or pulp novel classic that never existed. Cinematic synths jostle with gangster-esque guitars to create a feeling of anxiety and danger. You can almost imagine the her Jenkins’ inner monologue pepper this score like Harrison Ford in the original Blade Runner. As the song draws to a close claustrophobic chines usher in the demise of Jenkins, at his own hand. His war, just like the song is over. The album closes with ‘Spring-Heeled Jack’, another cinematic beast. As the song progresses you get the feeling that Jack is creeping up on this next victim, and after he has struck, he flees into the night before anyone can catch him. This is the exact feeling that you feel after the album has finished. Right Hand Left Hand have stalked you, taken you on an exhilarating ride and finally vanished without a trace as soon as it is over.
While intensity underpins this album, but there are pop hooks that stop it from being something to endure to something that you can actually enjoy. The melodies and riffs are catchy and interesting arrangements stop things getting formulaic and boring. Basically Right Hand Left hand are Lightning Bolt’s little brother that followed their blueprint, but added a pop sensibility to it. This is what makes Right Hand Left Hand sounds like the neo-post-rock opus it is!