Hail Social Modern Love & Death

Slick ambience is the order of the day for Hail Social, who on their sophomore record have ditched their post-punk tendencies in favour of a more danceable aesthetic. It’s easy to get caught off guard by this record — before you even know it you’re bobbing your head along to teen dream sing-along "Anna Belle.” Yes, hooks are certainly in no short supply and as much of the first half shows, they are capable of wonderfully smooth, catchy dance pop. Judging by singer Dayve Hawk’s "too cool for school” falsetto and the prominent synth/drum machine interactions, this bunch have been listening to the eminently smooth French combo Phoenix. Yet Hail Social haven’t quite reached the level of sophistication their Gallic role models have. The strong melodies are always present but Modern Love & Death is a little too uniform for these tunes to have significant staying power. (Independent)