Those Gay Hippies - Your Hair Tastes Nice

Owain Paciuszko 21/01/2009

Rating: 4/5

I cannot imagine anyone listening to Those Gay Hippies and coming away without an opinion, a strong one. I first heard them upstairs in the Cooper's Arms in Aberystwyth circa 2005 and they enthralled and frightened me, lead singer Robin's eyes seemed to stare wildly and intently, boring into your mind as he squawked, hollered or tenderly whispered songs about breaking somebody's shins.

Opening track As Long As He's Good To Her is both witty and despairing at the same time, as Robin coos about taking the blunt side of an axe to a girl's new boyfriend, but, y'know, only if he upsets her. It's one of their more 'pop' tracks, relatable, funny in a troubling way, and musically quite simplistic. Things seem even cosier on Sto E Ludo which wouldn't be out of place on many folk records, and the folk leanings continue into Biffsmack Grandad which then joyously inverts in on itself and becomes a parody of a folk-song before launching into acoustic-death-metal and back to folk-punk. It is the grand montage of many of Those Gay Hippies' skills, the ability to perform genuinely good laid-back folk, taint it with witty, blackly comic lyrics and then subvert genres at whim.

They can be abrasive and confrontational though (moreso on their up-coming second album), but, for me, this is another part of their appeal; they are unafraid to sing their subconscious, to fly off key and distort the microphone. They are as rough, terrifying and intriguing on record as they were that chilly, boozy night in Aberystywyth.

If God Existed... is an amazing song, another one of their 'pop' moments as it tells the jaunty tale of God as traffic warden with chipper, dry witted lyrics ('How it brightens up my day to feel I've been touched by God.'), quaint and also insightful that manage to pull the rug on you at the last minute.

On the downside this is occasionally a long and meandering record with some tracks feeling like improvised sessions, which sometimes work (The One I Didn't Get Round To Writing) and sometimes don't (Julian). But the album is full of ideas, each track is often full of ideas, taking you on little journeys sometimes down the garden path to look at some lovely flowers, sometimes down to the woods to show you a dead squirrel.

Those Gay Hippies are not going to be for everyone, but I love them.