Jack Hayter

Practical Wireless

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Practical Wireless is the first solo album by Jack Hayter of the London-based indie poppers Hefner. Hayter has had a folky solo thing on the side for a few years, apparently, but lacked the encouragement to make recordings of his own available until 2002. It was due to the "prodding" of his producer, Hefner's Darren Hayman, in fact, that he finally recorded these 12 tracks in a makeshift studio. Unfortunately for all of the participants, there's not much here to merit too much excitement. This collection of unpretentious, mostly grim acoustic tracks, some with a beery Irish folk flavor, lack any real personality or the emotional gravitas it takes to make material like this work, and Hayter fails to connect in any real emotional sense. For instance, the opening track, "Blind Man's Fog," was previously released as a Christmas single, but it's hard to imagine why it would be issued at that time of year unless it was to make an ironic statement. Perhaps this was the intention all along, and yet there's nothing ironic about the song at all. Lyrically, Hayter can turn a good phrase, and his gravel-stone warble is similar to Gavin Friday's, but clever lines like "She's got eyes like piss holes in the snow" are lost amid understated and frankly dull arrangements. Hayter's apparently well-versed on guitar, and other stringed instruments such as pedal steel too, but the instrumentation is fairly bland. "Au Lion d'Or" -- sung entirely in French -- is a typical example, a cluttered jumble of a song, while "Bilberberg" meanders along with no real purpose. One of the more interesting tracks might have been Hayter's cover of the Only Ones' punk-glam classic, "Another Girl, Another Planet," but the singer/guitarist strips away nearly everything that was great about the song in the first place and turns it into a loping country waltz.

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