Sometimes it’s quite fun to give a horrible album a critical kicking, a chance to bring some bratty popstar or pompous rock-god down a peg and show the Emperor has no clothes. This isn’t that kind of bad review. I’m not taking any pleasure in this. I really wanted to like Find What You Love And Let It Kill You because it clearly means a lot to its creators, and beginning to end it’s done with a lot of heart. Hurricane #1 frontman and songwriter Alex Lowe recently survived cancer, and you wouldn’t wish that horrible disease on your worst enemy. That he was able to take that awful experience and channel it into something creative is commendable, brilliant, in fact. If the record’s only purpose is to give Lowe closure and purpose then, fuck it, it’s a 10/10 and I’m glad it happened. In every possible way, good for him.
Unfortunately it’s not that easy. The album exists outside of that context, a record company is releasing it, a PR company is being paid to get us to review it, the band are asking people to part with money to hear it – it has to be judged on its own terms, and the results aren’t good. Lowe was obviously aiming at something classic sounding, a little wholesome, a good old fashioned semi-acoustic rock record. It’s nodding to the Eagles, to Crowded House, to Del Amitri, maybe to the Stereophonics. The problem there, is the dividing line between solidly constructed everyman rock and being very boring is quite a thin one. Find What You Love And Let It Kill You is never on the right side of that line.
Context is everything: if it wasn’t Lowe would never have released this record under the name Hurricane #1. A quick history lesson is needed here: Hurricane #1 is the band formed by Lowe in 1996 with former Ride guitarist Andy Bell, who was the group’s principal songwriter. It was the fag end of Britpop, the good bands had all gone stark raving mad and everyone else was copying Noel Gallagher. Having hit the jackpot with (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory Sony-owned label Creation were throwing money at anyone who might repeat the formula: Bell and Lowe seemed perfect. The band enjoyed modest success with two reasonably anthemic singles, ‘Step Into My World’ (no. 29 in 1996) and ‘Only The Strongest Will Survive’ (No. 19,1999), but never reached the commercial heights of their peers or enjoyed much critical acclaim. Bell jumped ship after two albums, eventually joining Oasis who were in the process of replacing poor musicians with good ones while, somehow, getting worse. He would later re-form Ride, the legendary indie-shoegazers he began his career with.
Bell is not involved in the new Hurricane #1, nor are any other original members - Lowe has put a brand new band together. So... we have an album by a barely remembered third-tier act from 20 years ago, without the guy who wrote the songs, and without the original backline to at least justify its existence as an old-times-sake jaunt down memory lane. Alex Lowe is clinging to the only card he has available to him to get the music heard - the name. That makes some commercial sense, but creatively it feels like a cop-out.
I’ve listened to Find What You Love And Let It Kill You six or seven times now, in an attempt to find something more to say than 'well, it’s fine.' In his press release Lowe says 'At the end of the day it's only music and critics get so caught up in it all and they try to analyse songs. Please, don’t do it with this album!', and do you know what? Who are we to argue with him? I’m not got going to pick over these songs one-by-one. I’m not going to piss on Lowe’s chips when he’s poured his heart out. I’ve given you the context, and I’ll say this: I’m going to send it to my Dad, because I think he might like it.
This is solidly constructed indie rock, for those who liked mid-period Stereophonics and thought Beady Eye were a bit 'out there.' If that appeals, and it might, then track it down.