Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson
Several boxes are ticked here, in the crowd pleasing stakes that is, something we’ve come to expect from one of the UKs most vibrant live acts. There’s really no disputing that Merry Hell are a great live band, their full-on stage presence does seem to give some of our younger bands a good run for their money, yet the last few months have effectively stopped the band in their tracks on the live front. Their sixth album to date, Emergency Lullabies, comes at a time when we most need cheering up, while at the same time it addresses some of our most concerning issues, something Merry Hell do so well. The dithering rhetoric of Brexit is touched upon in “Three Little Lions”, which in a way could be seen as a companion piece to the similarly titled football anthem of yore, where instead of football coming home, we’re all coming home, as the jokes and sneers continue through the debate. Merry Hell deliver quality records that always include songwriting of a highly conscientious nature, whether it be on the subject of conservation “Sister Atlas”, with a Swedish schoolgirl heroine as a focus and the title song “Emergency Lullaby (Wasting Time)”, which is a reminder of the relatively little time we have left (if we’re not careful, which we are clearly not) to “Beyond the Call”, our debt to the NHS, a sure, dead cert winner with future live audiences, echoed again in “We Are Different, We Are One”, which would both have made for great doorstep choruses a few months ago. Both songs can also be found on a new EP released by the band along with a new song, “When We Meet Again” (not on this album), featuring The Social Isolation Choir, a 300 voice collective who contribute their voices via email. Among all the thought provoking anthems, comes a throwback to our lamented Music Hall days, where humour is resurrected from its forced exile, with the joyful “Violet”, the kind of song Virginia Kettle ought to reserve for her fallback career, as the new Gracie Fields.