We’d not heard of The Burning Hell before — it’s Mathias Kom and a rotating cast of players, and this is their sixth album since 2007 — but they play witty pop in the style of They Might Be Giants (who they sound like) or Fountains of Wayne: clever lyrics that tell stories set to snappy pop tunes. In this case, the stories often have a dark twist.
Grown Ups is about a boy and girl who played together as kids (“You were a Nazi hunter, I was a cockney hunter”) and is told by the adult man, who’s been invited to something by the woman and is not going, the song ending ambiguously: “By the time you read this . . .”
Holidaymakers is about two kids going on holiday and then being hit and killed by a train. The song ends with St Peter asking why they should be allowed back for a second chance and what they missed about life, the list of answers ending “…and trains going slow”.
Amateur Rappers is a rap tune about rapping badly: an educated white boy rapping eruditely about stuff, none of which lends itself to rapping, including terrible jokes (“I’ve got a good one for you / Knock knock / Who’s there / Interrupting cow / Interrupting cow wh / Moo /”.
“I should maybe stick to dead baby jokes, they work every time,” he adds.
Realists is all about a misunderstanding over city by-laws while Barbarians is about a Viking boy whose dad gave up the Viking life, before the boy himself goes a-Vikinging and steals stuff (“He stole the nicest stuff around / He felt the Viking word for cool”).
And so on.
There are nine songs each telling a self-contained story narrated in a charming speak-singing voice by Mr Kom.
For those who want entertaining and clever stories set to pop, though it might be too “ooh aren’t I clever?” for some