Album Review: Darren Hayman

Darren Hayman -‘Great British Holiday EPs’ (Belka Records)

There are some people out there who have a funny habit of making you feel like you’re not working hard enough. Darren Hayman is one of those people. So far in 2008, as well as lots of live gigs with many projects (look, check hefnet alright, ‘cos there are only so many hours in the day), he has this year re-issued Hefner’s second album Fidelity Wars, issued the second album as Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern, entitled Pram Town, played bass as part of the east London bluegrass band that is Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee and their self-titled debut, and has now released this.

Hell, the man even works on holiday – and that’s what this release is about. Between 2005 and 2007 he released four very limited blnk-or-you’ll-miss’em EPs which detail his British holidays. So this re-issue ties together the 16 songs that were released across the Caravan Songs EP, Songs From the North Devon Coast EP, Eastbourne Lights EP and the Minehead EP, as well as three bonus tracks of holiday related covers, a previously unreleased song, and a bonus DVD.

It is perhaps best to approach this album in four parts, because it is sequenced chronologically in order of release and not as an album. Frustratingly, I find that I like the three covers best (‘Margate’ by Chas and Dave, V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N. by Connie Francis and Lyndsey Buckingham’s ‘Holiday Road.’) and the final EP, Minehead. The EPs are very much vignettes, sketches, call them what you will, but I find them extremely sketchy. Not as much as say, Damon Albarn’s Democrazy, but still rather undeveloped. Of course I wasn’t expecting something with the polish of, say, The Neptunes, but this feels like a sidetrack, rather than a soundtrack.

Don’t get me wrong, in the ten years since I first heard Hefner’s brilliant debut LP Breaking God’s Heart, I’ve rated Darren Hayman as a songwriter and lyricist, and that won’t change; I’ll always want to know what he’s up to. But this album is very much one for the completists.


Darren Hayman -‘Holiday Road.’ mp3

Darren Hayman -‘Victim Song.’ mp3

There is a mini-site devoted to this release over here, which is part of
Hefner and Darren Hayman’s official website. More mp3s and videos over here.

Great British Holiday EPs is rleased by Belka Records via Cargo on August 4.

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