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Lande Hekt - Going to Hell (Album Review)

Monday, 25 January 2021 Written by Huw Baines

‘Going to Hell’, the debut solo LP from Lande Hekt, displays all of the songwriting nous that has made her one of the most reliable practitioners in UK punk with her band, Muncie Girls. Melodically savvy and scalpel-sharp lyrically, she has transferred that skillset neatly to a batch of songs that skew gauzy and reserved in comparison to the chunky power chords of her day job.

Here Hekt tunes into the complex feelings that accompanied her coming out as gay, balancing uncertainty and anxiety with a rich sense of empathetic warmth that radiates out from its studied hooks.

As she sings on the marvellous December, which is a little like Sixpence None the Richer crossed with Slowdive: “What if it’s you that makes me happy for once? What if I tell you that, and get no response?”

Recorded in Australia pre-COVID with Ben David, guitarist in the Hard Aches, ‘Going to Hell’ also doubles as a technical achievement.

Hekt plays almost every note, keeping an even hand on the wheel as she balances washes of guitar fuzz with the gently roughed up treatment of her vocals. There’s not a melody here that can’t cut through the static, and she appears to know that.

There is a comforting sort of familiarity to songs like Hannover, where a ringing guitar riff gives way to a descending, almost drawled hook, and the palm-muted acoustic intro to Undone. Stranded in Berlin, meanwhile, instantly conjures the sophisticated indie-pop of the mid-1980s, splitting the difference between early IRS period R.E.M. and ‘Ever After’-era Three O’Clock.

Hekt wears these aesthetic touches with ease thanks to the sound construction of these songs, which grow more welcoming and enjoyable over time as their subtleties come into greater focus. ‘Going to Hell’ is a very good indie-rock record from a very good indie-rock songwriter. Sometimes it’s nice not to be surprised.

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