The popular observation in modern music is that all the best names are taken. Hence a shift towards shoddy self-labeling, as the well of band identity – once bulging with inspired ideas that screamed instant success – has dried to a sad dribble of nondescript meaning and bad jokes. Today we are left with Clean Bandit (what?) and Echosmith (the hell?), whereas past audiences bathed in the titular majesty of Electric Light Orchestra, Foreigner, Milli Vanilli and so forth. As with community spirit and Class-A drugs, things just aren’t what they used to be.
This brings us to the new single from Mexican outfit Hawaiian Gremlins, who, even by the standard of crap names, soar through the darkness like a comet in the night sky. The sheer gall is admirable in its boldness and will likely provoke a new wave of similar monikers, like when the Strokes, the Vines, the Hives etc came out around the same time. It won’t be long before we’re treated to Scottish Smurfs, probably a crowd-pleasing EDM duo from Hong Kong, or Saudi Arabian Hobbits, those Californian purveyors of Icelandic folk recitals.
Oh yeah, there’s also this thing called music which is quite important as well. Those who expect Hawaiian Gremlins to play chirpy surf-pop that can’t be listened to after midnight may be surprised, for “Kevin” – the dubious naming continues – nods to that other unpredictable rock in the sea, England, scientifically known as Hawaii’s direct opposite. Drawing on the 80s gloom tinged with misspent optimism that seemed to infect all British guitar bands of the era – the Smiths, the Cure, New Order – “Kevin” is actually pretty good, if not exactly rivetingly original, an upbeat scuffle of jangly guitars and ghostly vocals. It’s the last sound I’d associate with Gizmo on a surfboard, the image which graces the single artwork.
Hawaiian Gremlins are the proud creators of two previous EPs (2013’s Teenage Ways and last year’s Girls), with ‘Kevin’ the first taste of a forthcoming album. We await its yet-to-be-announced title with baited breath.