Felix Hagan & The Family – String Up The Entertainer (Debt Records)
DL / LP / DL
I, like 99% of the new recruits to the Felix Hagan & The Family was turned onto this because of the stellar review written by UK folk troubadour Frank Turner that was posted on his website. The strange thing was I wouldn’t for a second have pinned this type of music as something the lanky songster, though there is definitely a Queen-esque vibe within the record, would dig. But, at the same time, it isn’t something I thought I would necessarily dig. But I do. Very much. Which is almost as weird as the music this gang of miscreants are churning out.
This is camp fun pop at it’s best. Much like other pop mood lifters like The Hoosiers and, to a lesser extent, HelloGoodBye this band laces the traditional pop format of simple chords and catchy melodies and beats them with some sort of glitter covered twirling baton creating a sound that is often as dark and twisted as it is cheery. While ‘Go Back Home’ is a ridiculously optimistic tale about moving on after your significant other is doing another, ‘My Little Lusitania’ is a macabre slice from the darker corners of the pop cupboard and sounds like the bad guy solo song in practically every Disney film ever.
In terms of production the entire album is tighter than a badger’s arsehole and begs the question of “just where the hell was this recorded?” Being released on such a small record label usually doesn’t warrant a huge budget but somehow FH&TF have bypassed this hindrance by either utilising an insane amount of knowledge about music production, having a very wealthy relative die, or mugging a fuckload of old ladies as the end result of String Up The Entertainer is as crystal as any mainstream effort.
The easiest comparison I could give to FH&TF is that it is very reminiscent of the Scissor Sisters, in both sound and overall attitude, but the most fun comparison, and this wholly intended as something to be placed on press releases, I could come up with goes a little like this:
“Felix Hagan & The Family are the modern day equivalent of Charlie Manson’s rag tag bunch, if they’d been led by Elton John instead….and didn’t kill people.”
All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.