The debut EP by the deeply adorable co-ed quartet Holy Hail is, on the surface, yet another entry in the "We wish it was 1982" sweepstakes, a young band ripping off forms and sound from the time they were in diapers, if not in embryo. There's certainly something to this complaint, given the sheer numbers of bands working this neo-new wave style. But Holy Hail aren't content to merely cough up a few half-remembered B-52's riffs and call it a day: the four imaginative and dancefloor-friendly tracks on Big Guns are way more interesting than that. First, there are the appealingly quirky half-rapped vocals of lead singer and guitarist Cat Hartwell, a pint-size Amy Poehler lookalike who has to potential to become the Fergie of the indie dance set, only with more demonstrable talent. Then there are the driving, melodic basslines that suggest more than a little New Order influence, and keyboardist Kevin Cooke's fondness for unexpected timbres like the riffs that power the frenetic "Old Man Manlove," which sound like a Deep South church organist suddenly possessed by the spirit of Jimmy Smith. Combine this with actual, memorable songs with, like, choruses 'n' stuff instead of just grooves, and Big Guns is a most appealing debut that bodes well for what comes next.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason