Preview: Half Man Half Biscuit
HMHB bring latest album Urge for Offal to Edinburgh's Liquid Room
This article is from 2015.
We could fill this preview with wry titles from post-punk’s Half Man Half Biscuit alone. From the Birkenhead quartet's 1985 debut album, Back In The DHSS, through some of their best-loved LP designates (1998's Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral; 2005's Achtung Bono; 2008's CSI: Ambleside) – not to mention their deadpan track names ('Dickie Davies Eyes', 'Rod Hull Is Alive – Why?', 'National Shite Day') – HMHB are indie kings of the humdrum-inspired moniker. Little wonder John Peel crowned them 'a national treasure'.
Fronted by kitchen-sink versifier Nigel Blackwell, HMHB have peddled scrappy pop, raucous folk and lo-fi rock'n'roll vignettes since forming in 1984. Soon thereafter, they dispatched the droll poetics of 'Venus in Flares' ('A million housewives every day / Pick up a can of beans and say / “What an amazing example of synchronisation”'), and 30 years later, they're still on a roll: they've just released a new album, Urge for Offal.
Urge for Offal scraped the UK Album Chart Top 40, testifying to HMHB's ongoing place in our indie hearts, and Blackwell nods to his down-home manifesto in one of the LP's standout tracks, 'Mileage Chart' ('In limiting my aspirations / a quiet happiness ensues / I never tried to reach for the stars / I never had platform shoes'). But then, HMHB were always wise as well as wry – and they often offered sage advice, as evinced by this 2002 titular wonder: 'The Light At The End of the Tunnel (Is The Light of an Oncoming Train)'.
Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Jan.