The Hermit Crabs - Time Relentless EP

matinée 084  /  September 2012
The Hermit Crabs - Time Relentless EP
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The Hermit Crabs - Time Relentless EP

matinée 084  /  September 2012

A very welcome return of Scottish pop favorites The Hermit Crabs! The first release since the celebrated ‘Correspondence Course’ EP in 2009, the new ‘Time Relentless’ EP shows the band in remarkably fine form across four new songs mixing acoustic and electric guitars with nice bursts of percussion and keyboards.

Lead track ‘On The Spectrum’ is the comparison of two relationships set to jangling guitars, with an ace chorus about taking photographs, kissing in the rain, and talking about the blues. ‘Time Relentless’ combines classic Hermit Crabs orchestration with lyrics taken from a poem by Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree from his autobiography ‘The Flying Scotsman’. Keyboards and chiming guitars set the perfect tone for the stunning imagery of the poem. ‘Stop This Now’ is an upbeat two-minute pop hit about another relationship, showcasing twinkling guitars and exquisite harmonies, while final track ‘So Blue’ is an autumnal, mid-tempo tale about supporting a friend through a somber time, with layered instrumentation that builds to an especially melodic conclusion.

Limited to 1000 copies in custom minijacket sleeve, ‘Time Relentless’ is another Scottish pop triumph for the Hermit Crabs!

  1. On The Spectrum
  2. Time Relentless
  3. Stop This Now
  4. So Blue


Scottish indie poppers Hermit Crabs' first new single in four years is the best thing they've done yet. The passing years seem to have aged their gentle indie pop sound into something a little deeper and richer. Melanie Whittle's vocals still sounds uncannily like those of Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell, and the group's basic sound is still a Camera Obscura carbon copy, but the songs here are just a little catchier and the words a little more meaningful. "On the Spectrum" does a fine job detailing a complicated love triangle, "So Blue" tenderly outlines a sick-friend scenario, and "Time Relentless" uses the words from a poem by Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree of the same title to great effect. Neither the band nor this EP will set the world on fire, but Time Relentless does provide a nice, quiet respite from the kind of music that does try to set the world on fire.   --All Music Guide
We're struggling to believe it's really more than three years since the previous release by the Hermit Crabs - the splendid "Correspondence Course" - but apparently it is, which even before you've torn the disc from its sleeve makes this new EP a tremendously welcome event. The band have resisted the temptation to emerge from this hibernation (and yes, before you question our carcinological credentials, hermit crabs *do* hibernate) sporting a dramatic new sound - so no Damascene conversion to the wonders of cross-genre pollination, or sudden discovery of the latest bandwagon (which may be just as well, given that the latest bandwagons in town include djent and brostep)- but that doesn't mean the Crabs haven't made a few refinements to the glorious, melody-strewn folk-pop leanings of their previous releases. The opening song here, "On The Spectrum", resumes the Glaswegians' discography perfectly. It intertwines winningly-observed lyrics (it's boy vs. boy, with a twist in the tail) with rolling organ, an easy, assured indie-pop twang and guitars that could have garlanded the first Butcher Boy album: a grand instrumental passage shines particularly brightly. It's then the turn of the title track to cement the new record's credentials, and it does so with style: after announcing itself with *that* drumbeat (clue: from New York City, by way of East Kilbride), "Time Relentless" uses poetry by the brilliant if iconoclastic former sprint cyclist Graeme Obree as the key ingredient in a warm cooking-pot of simmeringly jangling guitars: there are some confident, Smiths-like brush strokes, as well as an extra helping of keyboards. The third number, "Stop This Now" (despite the "Down With That Sort Of Thing" ring of its title) is another song with its roots in the way that relationships repeat themselves, but singer Melanie Whittle makes no bones that she's intent on nipping this one in the bud: once more the guitars find themselves plucked with a particular gusto (a breezy instrumental section contains some of the most intricately upbeat jangle this side of the Chesterf!elds' "Kettle"), and the song rattles along at Ski Sunday pace before the inevitable stone-cold ending. The EP's parting shot is the affecting and very personal "So Blue": intimate from the opening lines ("we had a gig in Aberdeen / I invited all our friends..."), and throwing into sharp relief the faster pace of earlier songs, it's a musical trinket wrapped up in bittersweet memories, as Melanie turns her attention to a friend who has been assaulted, and thence to the nature of friendship itself. It's not an easy subject to tackle, and there are certainly groups out there who might struggle to get the tone right, but "So Blue" is naked enough ("I secretly said a prayer") that it makes a compelling, if lyrically somewhat sombre, end to the EP. If truth be told, we were beginning to think that we might not hear from the Hermit Crabs again, so it's lovely for this record to appear and put those doubts to rest.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
Each time there's an email from Matinée Recordings reaching my inbox I smile. I assume, and it's almost infallible, their music proposal is going to be great. But this time the announcement was the long awaited comeback from beloved Glaswegian band The Hermit Crabs, so I yelled (I was at work at the office, luckily quite alone, as my colleagues are still on holidays). A yelling of happiness and excitement, that is. It had been a long time indeed, although Melanie Whittle offered a dose of her talents thanks to Baffin Island, joining forces with members of another favourite band on this site, The Very Most. But three years had passed since the glorious "Correspondence Course EP" without new songs from The Hermits, so there were questions about how the band will sound after these hiatus. But they quickly showed there was no reason to panic. This band has always showed their cards from the very beginning, without chances for "second thoughts". With them, beauty comes straightforwardly to the ears of the listener. And their new work is no different. "On the Spectrum" is a stunning opener, a strong statement saying to the world "we are back", with mesmerizing GUITAR work (written on capital letters because they deserve it, it's that big) and a killer chorus. Mel might be talking about the blues, but the feeling the song produces are the very opposite. A jangle-pop feast. "Time Relentless" slows the tempo with the band's trademark orchestrations and the addition of subtle keyboards. The visual lyrics are taken from a poem, suiting the contemplative mood of the piece. All seems to flow towards the wonderful chorus where Mel's adorable voice shines, acquiring an epic nuance while guitars arise in the mix, providing the tune a fantastic climax. "Stop This Now" is a much more joyous affair in terms of melody, upbeat and contagious. Drums splashes and guitars flourishes, sparking the tune. After the instrumental section, vocal harmonies appear and you are expecting a longer-than-life finale. But it ends abruptly, leaving you wonder for me. A perfect pop pill of two minutes! And finally "So Blue" concludes the EP with a mid-tempo that recalls their previous releases and their similarities with Camera Obscura (will you return soon too, Tracyanne?). Fortunately, the instrumentation steps up, helping the song to grow and closing the release on a high note. If you didn't know The Hermit Crabs (very soon we'll have a band's retrospective on the blog), this EP is a great introduction into their music. And for us, fans, is a wonderful return to form. Jangle-pop, twee-pop and indiepop lovers, we are in luck. Welcome back Hermits!   --Bloodbuzzed
“Charming Scottish pop” is a redundancy three times over, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the first new music in three-plus years from the Hermit Crabs (and don’t let the curmudgeonly name fool you either). Over an all-too-brief four tracks, the band, led by frontwoman Melanie Whittle, share some snapshots of relationships at different phases (thereby ensuring maximum relatability). From the opening “On The Spectrum”, where Whittle’s narrator compares two romances, including one with a man who loves “kissing in the rain”—soundtracked by warm keys and John Ferguson’s jangly guitar – to “Stop This Now”, which sees a relationship’s end on the horizon (“we both know this ain’t got far to go”), Whittle’s friendly voice always depicts impending doom. Meanwhile, the title track takes its lyrics from a poem by (famed?) Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree about the passage of time. It’s all very charming, and over way too soon. According to the Scotsman I know best, Groundskeeper Willie, the Scots can’t get along with anyone, but you’ll have no trouble falling for the Hermit Crabs.   --PopMatters
I never really thought the Hermit Crabs got the credit they deserved when they released those two eps and daintily understated album between 2006 and 2009. Alas, it's too late for that to happen now, as this is a deceased band, and 'Time Relentless' (a rather apt title, if you think about it) is, I hear, the band's last release. It's a very perfect way to go out, mind, with 'On The Spectrum' hinting at danger, and the title track nudging at a greatness few other acts would let die. 'Stop This Now' (the clue is always in the question, isn't it?) sounds like The Icicles, and I miss that band so much. Last track, 'So Blue', is where The Hermit Crabs exit the stage, I guess, and it's a particularly heartbreaking way to leave. It's about helping out a friend through a hard time and whilst it never really lets itself go, it's probably best for that. The last thing we want here is an ill-placed explosion of strings. And so, ta-ra The Hermit Crabs - a band that never really fulfilled (in popularity terms) the promise shown by that exquisite 'Feelgood Factor' ep in 2006, but who were around long enough to be important in my life. Lost treasures are sometimes the most precious.   --A Layer of Chips
It's hard to believe that these Scots (Glasgow) have been around for nearly a decade. It was in 2003 when vocalist Melanie Whittle's other band, California Snow Story (a band also well worth checking out) went on hiatus that she needed a new band and the Hermit Crabs were born. Since 2006 it's been three eps and one full-length all on the Matinée label and all with top quality that one would expect from the band, label and city of Glasgow. The record starts off with the jangly "On the Spectrum," a breezy, shuffling pop tune with Whittle's vocal out front and the whirring keyboards perfectly in sync with the guitar and rhythm section while the title track steals the drumbeat from The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" but ends up sounding more like Camera Obscura (not a bad place to be). "Stop This Now" is snappier and more upbeat and everything a great pop song should be. The ep ends with the spare, low-key (appropriately titled) piano pop of "So Blue." A nice ending. In a just world these guy would be selling out arenas but alas, the world is not just so just go buy this record and just be content.   --Blurt Magazine
With possibly the only use of the word "hermit" in a band name since 'Herman's Hermits', and maybe the only use of the word "crab", this Scottish clan sound exactly like any Glaswegian band signed to indiepop label Matinee Recordings should sound. Much like the creature from which they take their name, The Hermit Crabs are their own being, yet they borrow other band's musical shells to inhabit; something they don't shy away from, with a list of influences including Camera Obscura, Simon & Garfunkel, Belle & Sebastian etc. Of course, crabs, particularly this variety, aren't known for their speed, and releases by this quartet are few and far between, the 'Time Relentless' EP being the first new material since 2009. Most would go for quality over quantity any time, and fear not, The Hermit Crabs have come up with the goods here. The breezy and soft intro to 'On The Spectrum' will instantly put a smile on your face and we're sure they won't mind us saying that the melody would sit happily on any of Tracyanne Campbell's compositions. It's not so much returning with a bang, more a gentle caress, and that's just fine. Hal Blaine's famous drum intro to 'Be My Baby' is borrowed for the reflective, steady jangle of the title-track which uses lyrics from a poem by Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree. Rather than backing it with full wall of sound sonics, the orchestration is lighter in nature, therefore not overpowering the song. By now the colours of the EP are on full display as they easily stride through the melancholic indiepop of 'Stop This Now', a tale of love falling apart made even more moving thanks to the sweetness of Mel's vocals, while the piano-led 'So Blue' feels like a lost B&S track. Hermit's they may be, but they choose their habitations wisely and keep them in just as perfect a condition as the owners themselves would.   --The Sound of Confusion
We’re almost a decade into the excellent career of The Hermit Crabs, a Glaswegian group specializing in jangling guitars and sentimental melodies. They hit 2012 running with the warming Time Relentless EP, crafting timeless pop songs that every listener will surely find endearing, no matter how many times you play it on your stereo. We find the group opening with “On The Spectrum,” and Mel opens with a steady vocal that attaches itself to your inner ear from the moment she joins in with the careful choreography of the guitar. As she sings of her favorite fella a light backing vocal warms your heart, illustrating the relevance of The Hermit Crabs in everyone’s personal indie pop collection. “Time Relentless” continues the pop barrage, using a heavy drumbeat as the backbone of the song. Once the guitars take on a more prominent role in the song, you’re going to find it hard to ignore the fact that this group can clearly match any of the work of their compatriots Camera Obscura. I know it might seem like hyperbole, but each little added touch deepens the emotional appeal, such as the added keyboard wash that hangs far off in the distance of this track. Perhaps my favorite track on the Time Relentless EP is also its shortest, “Stop This Now.” It begins with a strummed guitar, and Mel coolly singing atop it, but the song blossoms into pop beauty when the lead guitar begins to noodle its way in and out of the track, all the while the rhythm guitar still carries with it a steady strum. Again, you’ll find the perfect backing vocal assuring you of the pitch-perfect melody in Mel’s voice. Such a wonderful track. Closing out the EP is a more melancholy number, which comes to you via “So Blue.” Instead of revolving solely around the guitar and Mel, they use a bit of piano to provide the slowing mood. For me, I keep hearing the guitar cutting in, as if it’s crying with the emotion of the track. While it definitely has a change of pace, this is the sort of song that indie pop fans fawn over. While The Hermit Crabs aren’t necessarily a household name as of yet, you can be assured that those of us in love with the group are begging to share the group’s music with you. It might not seem otherworldly, but the perfect execution of blissful pop songs makes the Time Relentless EP a must have for all fans of the genre.   --Austin Town Hall
Hooray for new Hermit Crabs! I was elated this morning when I received word from Matinée that The Hermit Crabs will be releasing a new EP! “Stop This Now” is as fine a slice of pop as I’ve come to expect from the Glasgow four-piece! It shimmers and shines like a new pin (that twinkly lead and humming organ do sound rather ‘Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi’, don’t they?!). If you like your pop sweet and unabashed—and why wouldn’t you??—then make sure to grab the ‘Time Relentless’ EP on Matinée next month!   --Skatterbrain
The Time Relentless EP is the first recorded output from Scotland's beloved The Hermit Crabs since 2009. For those not familiar with the band, they produce a shimmering indie pop/folk pop that may remind the listener of fellow Scots Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian. The first of the four tracks on Time Relentless EP is the upbeat "On the Spectrum" -- a song based on the comparison of two relationships. Vocals, chords, keys, guitar picking -- this song packs about as much indie pop goodness in three minutes as you could imagine. I expect that its choice as the opener was deliberate, as is ably dismisses any possible doubts as to whether THC have returned in top form. "On the Spectrum" is followed by the wistful title track, the lyrics of which are supplied by a poem written by a Scottish cyclist. The tune begins in a slow tempo, but soon the chiming guitars and soaring keys take over. The third track, "Stop This Now", is available now as a free download. The EP closes with "So Blue". With a slower tempo and a theme of helping a friend in need, it is a fitting closer to a sweet indie pop triumph.   --When You Motor Away
This is a lovely, crisp bit of strummy, melancholy indie pop, and if it reminds you of Camera Obscura and/or Belle & Sebastian, well, all hail from Glasgow, where apparently this type of strummy, melancholy indie pop is a prevailing musical dialect. But I encourage listening above and beyond the similarities, and tossing aside genre generalizations because, as I have said time and again, it’s far less important for a song to sound different than for it to be good. “Stop This Now” is deliciously good—so good in fact that it is different, if maybe in more subtle ways than can be summarized via pre-established labels. Everything happens quickly here. The pace is light-footed, the verse concise—one melodic line, repeated twice, each time ending on an unresolved note. We’re at the chorus by 0:25, and yet see how we’re still not at any resolution. The pace stays fleet but the melody itself slows down, with front woman Melanie Whittle now singing fewer words per bar. It’s this opening part of the chorus that just nails the song for me—that lilting, deceptively simple triplet of lines (“And I know/And you know/We both know”) displaying both rueful wit and anguished charm, unfolding across those lovely chords that keep not resolving until we get to the twelfth bar (0:42). And even then we don’t feel full closure until the guitars strum their way through to the sixteenth measure, as we tend to need eight eight or sixteen measures for our ears to feel settled. The second trip through the verse is fortified by some dandy guitar work, the chorus’s follow-up enhanced with a winsome countermelody. Pay attention, however, or the thing will pass you by—it’s all over by 2:18. Founded by Whittle, the Hermit Crabs have recorded one full-length album to date, 2007′s Saw You Dancing. “Stop This Now” is from the band’s third EP, entitled Time Relentless, which is out this month on Matinée Recordings.   --Fingertips
The Hermit Crabs have been linked to fellow Scots Camera Obscura in some quarters, and the band even add them on their influences list on Facebook along with the likes of Blondie. I suppose I can see that influence, but on this latest EP they seem to me to be breaking away from that link, although they did at one point share the same drummer I'm told. 'On the Spectrum' is the first track on this new EP, and its lyrics has us kissing in the rain while taking photos. It gets the EP off to a pleasant and strong start. 'Time Relentless', the title track, starts with a Shirelles intro and lets you drift along with its lyrics which are taken from a poem about a cyclist. There are some great synth moments in here as well as Mel Whittle's soft honey vocals and versatile guitar work. It has a cool dreamy sound to drift away too. 'Stop This Now' is more up-beat with the addition of organs and flighty melodic harmonies. The last track 'So Blue' starts with a piano, and is about a friend supporting a friend who is in hospital at a crucial time. With a slight country feel to it this EP drifts along enjoyably. Mel's vocal sounds more Dido-ish to me than their Glaswegian counterparts. It is limited to just a thousand copies and should have no problems in selling out. Grab one while you can. After all, see that tickle in your ears, that's the Hermit Crabs!   --Pennyblack Magazine
Bajo el tradicional sonido Jangle-Pop de los escoceses Hermit Crabs se esconden una auténtica trama urdida en base a relaciones, poemas, lirismo y un profundo amor por la música Pop. Graban para Matineé Recordings, lo cual es casi un sinónimo de buen hacer y de un sonido que garantiza auténtica calidad. Si a ello unimos que vienen de Glasgow, origen de bandas tan deliciosas como Belle and Sebastian o Camera Obscura, pues nos encontramos dos referencias ineludibles más. Han editado este Ep este verano, y puedes encontrarlo directamente desde la página del sello. Os dejo un par de enlaces y el sencillo de libre descarga elegido como adelanto del disco, el maravilloso Stop this now.   --The Janglebox
Carezze pop targate Matinee Recordings. Il nuovo Ep degli scozzesi The Hermit Crabs, "Time Relentless", è in uscita il 4 settembre, ma è già ordinabile sul sito dell'etichetta, che anche questa volta colpisce dritta al cuore gli amanti dell'indie guitar pop più gentile ed elegante. L'Ep, che segue ‘Correspondence Course’ uscito nel 2009, mescola ancora una volta sapientemente voce femminile, chitarre acustiche ed elettriche che si rincorrono nel giardino del jangle pop. Tra momenti più malinconici e altri più briosi, 4 pezzi che segnano la perfetta colonna sonora di fine estate e che chiudono perfettamente un cerchio pop aperto dal solare, giocoso e ipermelodico Ep "The Fake Stories About You and Me" dei Pale Sunday, uscito in luglio sempre per la Matinee.   --Troublezine
Aye ! Aujourd'hui, deux bonnes nouvelles nous parviennent en même temps: d'une part, une nouvelle sortie est prévue chez Matinée Recordings le mois prochain, d'autre part, il s'agit d'un EP de The Hermit Crabs. Muets depuis 2009, les Ecossais nous proposent enfin un successeur à Correspondence Course. Baptisé Time Relentless, ce nouvel effort discographique comportera quatre titres. Le premier extrait - que vous trouverez en libre écoute et en téléchargement ci-dessous - s'intitule Stop This Now. Au programme, une jolie ballade uptempo où de jolis arpèges de guitare répondent de manière sporadique à une rythmique acoustique toute en légèreté. Les harmonies vocales ne sont également pas en reste et ne laissent rien présager d'un final aussi abrupt que subtile.   --Tweendie