Let’s hear a round of applause for Manchester-based art rockers Egyptian Hip Hop. Because, more than four years after forming, and two years after they released their debut EP, the four piece have finally found the time to complete their first full length album. But was it worth the wait?
The answer to that question, on the whole, would have to be ‘yes’. _Good Don’t Sleep_ is an individual, intelligent and innovative record, with a number of resounding high points. That said, those familiar with EHH’s earlier output, in particular the New Order-esque ’Rad Pitt’ and the glitzy pop of ’Moon Crooner’ (both from the EP _Some Reptiles Grew Wings_) may well feel alienated and disappointed with the bands more difficult, and yet ultimately more rewarding, new direction.
The album is certainly a challenging one, with only one song weighing in at under 4 minutes. Additionally, the phrase “shoe gaze vocals” could have been invented purely for EHH front man Alex Hewett, who might just as well be singing in Egyptian with how difficult it is to decipher his lyrics on some songs. It’s these factors which prevent _Good Don’t Sleep_ from being a truly seminal album, the lengthy ’Snake Line West’ in particular has the air of a song drowning in its own complexity.
However, the positives far outweigh the negatives. The album bookends- ‘Tobago’ and ‘Iltoise’- are particularly strong; the formers funk infused opening sprawls into a melancholic odyssey of hypnotic repetition, whilst the latter brings the LP to a sonorous, atmospheric finale. ‘Yoro Diallo’ is also a sterling track, all juttering bass and breathy vocals.
This is an impressive debut and it will be interesting to see which musical direction EHH take next. Here’s hoping that their next offering doesn’t have a similarly long gestation period.