The Hours is the brainchild of Martin Slattery and Antony Genn - veterans of various bands and production credits from Unkle to Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Slattery's keyboard work for the likes of Black Grape is an instant reference on the album, which begins well with a tense opening piano beat that threatens to explode but never does. This is the structure of much of the album and it really works. Antony Genn's vocals are intense and urgent and come at you with an Interpol-like might. These are epic songs and this is totally down to a great use of restraint. The rarely let go and so retain the tension throughout the album.
Lyrically it's a mixed bag. All In The Jungle repeats the excellent line "The greatest comeback since Lazarus" and builds up a nice boxing story with Ali fight samples over the end, but then a few tracks later you get this..."I love you more than all my hooded tops, I love you more than Tony Soprano and for those who don't know me that's a fuck of a lot." The song has the same tension as the other songs but the lyrics are laughable. They seem to be tongue in cheek but are sung with such seriousness. I mean who doesn't love Mr. Soprano and every now and again I could be seen in a hooded top but I wouldn't use them to declare my undying love for someone. Unfortunately this song undermines things and makes for the rest of the album difficult listening - emphasised later on with a dose of fucking swearing. I like a dose of Explicit Lyrics as much of the next time, but it's so unnecessary here that it just seems trite in the context of these often operatic storylines. It's like sitting through a family gathering when your 90 year old granddad could come out with anything at any time and you're just waiting for it.
The slow jams like Icarus don't work as well as the others. They fall into the Coldplay/Snow Patrol grey area and are left behind by the strength of their pent-up counterparts. Murder Or Suicide disappears off into a fantastic piano based instrumental pounding session which really hammers home the fact that the piano is definitely man of the match here.
This is a debut with more than its fair share of promise but it seems far too aware of itself. It's too literal and sometimes takes itself way too seriously. It's no surprise that Jarvis Cocker is a fan of these guys as storytelling third-person lyrics are his forte but The Hours don't have the kitchen sink wit that made Cocker's work so original.