Sicario Music, Mexico
by Carlos Reyes
A killer band name, infectious guitars, and tropical sticker aesthetics have made Hawaiian Gremlins one of the most bloggable bands of the last couple of years. The common denominator for most bloggers: it’s a band that offers nothing new but whose feel-good vibes are worth to pass around. While their debut EP Teenage Ways was too scattered in vision for a proper review, their new EP, Girls, brings some focus to their pastiche. Not that the band is heading on the right path (if there’s such a thing), but they’re showing signs of wanting to move past being the flavor of the month.
“All the girls are watching us,” nuances a low-reverbed crooning voice on the EP’s intro. Not so fast on self-gratification guys! It’s easy to tap your foot and consume the music with that happy-go-lucky joy the band offers. But when the novelty wears off, we must ask for some challenge. Even if this is meant to be some kind of homage to Michael Cera, there’s little proposition in Girls. Jangling surf guitars and soft brushes make up for most of the offer, and although at times ingenious (the tippy toeing in “AA AA” is too cute), there’s little revelation at the core of these tunes. Add the fact that Hawaiian Gremlins have yet to realize singing in English (for the sake of it and not having much command of it) is no longer cool, and fall cheesy and flat on their limited vocabulary. Not to mention, one can misunderstand things completely –for the longest time I was under the impression first single “Give It Up” was incestuous (“I want you so bad Daddy hurts,”) but apparently it isn’t.
Past its lyrical fiasco and its all-absorbing redux, Girls (unlike its predecessor) does offer the band with a direction. If they stick with naïve tempos and stripped-down bubblegum melodies (as they have in standout tracks "Give It Up" and "Bright Lights"), they’re likely to encounter more than a few gems in the future. Girls also benefits from a very pleasing construction –it’s a 20minute dose that offers an intro, potential hit singles, fillers, and an outro. The real challenge will arrive when it’s time to transfer the dangerously thin and borrowed discourse to a full-length album. That's bound to be stretchy. Recalling moods and sounds rather than shaping them is a hit or miss game. Hawaiian Gremlins are squeezing from a tree that might not sustain them for too long, but it will do for the time being.