Hugo Kensdale: Animals – EP review

Hugo Kensdale – Animals
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One of Manchester’s best kept secret, Hugo Kensdale, releases his debut EP Animals. Louder Than War’s Ian Critchley reviews.

Manchester has always been seen as a hub of great music since the Hacienda days, with generations new and old claiming to be devoted fans of the city’s music scene. But the majority of these masses of supposed music lovers wear the age old acts like a family crest but do very little when it comes to the music that is happening in Manchester right now.

Hugo Kensdale is a prime example of a great musician on the Manchester circuit of the modern day. Kensdale has been playing around the city and its outskirts for a good few years in either his full band or solo guise. Both incarnations are an audible tour de force of incredible musicality paired with a genuinely humble personality that beams through his entire set.

So it is with great elation that Hugo, and band, have release their début EP. Animals is a four track titan of a record that sounds like everything the Gallagher brothers could have been if they’d had a brain cell to share between them. Over crystal production Hugo dances his Manc accent around low croons and mellifluous falsetto pieces, with lyrics packed with poetic metaphor that would make Byron put the pen to bed, while what is easily one of the best tightest bands in the country implement a plethora of styles, from folk to rock to jazz, into a back beat that is both technically intricate and very moveable.

The usual downfall of an EP is its length but Animals feels just about right. It leaves the listener yearning for more without the sting of being unsatisfied by the amount given. And with Animals having a download price of £1 from the Hugo Kensdale bandcamp it is impossible to argue value for money when it comes to music this good.

Opener ‘The Author’ became one of my favourite songs ever as soon as I heard it live many years ago and the rest of the EP follows suit giving the impression that if and when Hugo and his entourage record a full length there won’t be a single bad note on it.

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Hugo Kensdale is currently working on a live album and can be liked on facebook. Animals can be downloaded from bandcamp.

All words by Ian Critchley. More of Ian’s work can be viewed through his author’s archive here.

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