I was immensely excited to review the debut full-length album from Barnsley’s own The Hurriers because their 4 track EP “Truth and Justice” was such a brilliant blast of righteous fury, impassioned storytelling, and biting intelligence.
So when I heard that the band were dropping From Acorns Mighty Oaks on—absolutely fittingly—May 1st, 2015, I jumped at the chance to experience what the band would come up with next because the material on the EP was so strong.
The album exceeded my every expectation.
On this new album, The Hurriers have delivered a shot across the bow of the banksters, corporate fatcats, and the politicians that they own, that the people will not be denied justice.
From the moody opening “Spectemur Agendo (Judge us by our acts)”—which begins with the voice of Ian Nairn, an architecture critic active in the 50s-70s who was appalled by the homogenization of urban spaces—to the barn burner of an album closer “Big Ideas and Promises”, The Hurriers mix sharp social commentary with motivational agitprop that keeping you thinking and moving at the same time.
In addition to the four tracks from the “Truth and Justice” EP—which you can listen to on their Soundcloud—From Acorns Mighty Oaks has six powerful, passionate originals and a blistering cover of the Chris Evans Collective’s “Defiance”. The potent combination of powerful music along with tight, unobtrusive production from Sheffield’s Alan Smyth (Arctic Monkeys, Pulp), and Tony Wright’s defiant, hopeful lyrics will have you playing From Acorns again and again.
The guitars of Sam Horton and Jim Proud provide the right amount of blistering bite to carry the speedy punk numbers like “You’re Not Gagging Me”, but Horton and Proud are capable of great subtlety, restraint, and melodicism as heard on the album’s most expansive and ambitious track, “Britain Last”.
Zak Wright and Jamie Walman continue to be a remarkable cross-generational rhythm section—drummer Zak is vocalist/lyricist Tony Wright’s son—who combine speed, power and a bit of swing (and not just of the truncheon).
As brilliant as the music is, the bright soul of The Hurriers comes from Tony Wright’s lyrics, which are at once wry, bitter, blunt, and inspirational. Though Wright speaks with authority about the political situation in the UK, his focus on the oppressive tactics of those in power, such as “They trample on us and they break all the rules/Their language is evil and their actions cruel/Ignorant groups led by dangerous fools/The fist and the boot are their vicious tools”, are as applicable to conservatives in the US as they are to UKIP or Tory.
Wright and the band never forget the importance of the struggle for freedom and justice, and offer words (and rhythms) in support. On “Big Ideas and Promises”, Wright reminds us to “take your passion from the struggle/Take your strength from what’s within/Be inspired by all your heroes/If you don’t we’ll never win”. Like all of the best protest music, Wright’s lyrics remind us that changing the world for the better requires a lifetime’s work, and are what separates what the Hurriers are doing from mere posturing or sloganeering.
For all of the fierce condemnation of those in power—lyrics like “Fear! Terror! Panic! Intimidation!/Despots! Bullies! Autocrats! Totalitarians!/You’re not gagging me” from “You’re Not Gagging Me” are typical of that fierceness—the group also never forgets that real people are hurt in class warfare.
“Beat and Then Some” is a vivid account of the struggles of the working class being crushed by capitalism “All we ever wanted was the chance to live our lives/A house, a job, some food to eat/And a week spent in sunshine/We never asked for all that grief”. It’s the empathy and compassion that are displayed in the lyrics that help to make The Hurriers something special.
From Acorns Mighty Oaks is a triumph and can be an inspiration for all groups aspiring to combine political commitment with a unerring ear for a melodic hook. In sum, get this album as soon as you can—it’s on pre-order from their website.
The Hurriers Online: