Better Late Than Never
When listening to Local H’s latest release, Hey, Killer, one can’t help but wonder: why didn’t they make this album years ago? Singer/guitarist/permanent member Scott Lucas has penned seven collections of varying levels of alternative rock intensity, pushing the volume sliders but never allowing them to reach 10. On their eighth release, the Chicago-area duo left limits behind, going full-loudness and full-scream to great effect.
The first few seconds of Killer are innocent yet ominous — a slow hum that could be anything, but soon reveals itself as the guitar amp being turned way up, past where it’s accustomed to being as evidenced by its protesting snaps and pops. The crunchy riff that follows is held up by newcomer Ryan Harding’s booming drums, and Lucas’s grunge-throwback vocals come in, causing Harding to boom even boomier. “City of Knives” is reminiscent of Bleach-era Nirvana and reveals Lucas as a capable and impressive shouter. “Freshly Fucked” continues with this classic Sub Pop sound, though polished with the benefit of modern technology; it’s dirty and raw but not cheap.
“Gig Bag Road” and “The Misanthrope” are able to mix this Northwest sound with hints of Southern rock, still not bringing the overall level of Killer down. On “One of Us,” Lucas backs away from the distortion but Harding’s drums stay up, not allowing us to get too comfortable, giving this song a “Creep” feel. There are a few tunes that break the six-minute barrier, like the epic and haunting “Leon and the Game of Skin,” and bringing an artistic element to the project and making it feel less like a ’90s throwback. “Mansplainer” takes you right back to that era, but in the best way possible, mixing a sweet refrain with a frenetic verse.
Hey, Killer ends with the introspective and drum-free “I Am a Salt Mine,” finally providing some rest from the assault of the rest of the album, but it does not detract from the intensity of the preceding ten tracks. If this was the first you heard of Local H, and you explored their back catalog, you may ask, “What took them so long?” But no matter; this was worth the wait.