The Soup Dragons Hang-Ten
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The Soup Dragons' Hang-Ten! is a clattering rush of indie pop that manages to overcome the weak vocals of Sean Dickson, the rudimentary production, and the sometimes overly simplistic songwriting with a wave of pure teenage energy. Recorded on the heels of the C-86 movement, the record is very much influenced by that scene and the nascent noise-pop sound as well. It is built around the trashcan drums of the Jesus and Mary Chain, the fuzzy but not dangerous guitars of the Shop Assistants, the chirping backing vocals and the shambling feel of bands like the Pastels or the Bodines. Of course it isn't the equal of their influences, but tunes like "Slow Things Down," "Pleasantly Surprised," and especially "Whole Wide World" have a ramshackle charm that puts them just below the first tier of '80s U.K. fuzz-pop bands. The seven-minute long melancholy epic "So Sad ( I Feel)" even makes a case that the band could have transcended their narrow scope if they had gone in that more "adult" noise-pop direction (see the Wedding Present for a band that did) instead of jumping for the mainstream on their subsequent albums. Although its appeal is mainly limited to devoted C-86 enthusiasts and Soup Dragons completists (if such a thing exists), Hang-Ten! is actually a pretty decent record. Certainly it was the best work of a band that went on to release nothing but sub-par records.