Sound — 10
Dramatic, powerful and intense. A wall of guitars, strings, keyboards and drums. That's the Hope Of The States sound, and it has produced arguably the finest debut of the year. The first thing you notice about this album is how it sounds nothing like any other rock album you've ever heard. Heartfelt acoustic ballads build up to enormous climaxes, and songs frequently end by collapsing into a wall of ear-splitting guitar feedback. The guitars of Mike Hibbert and Anthony Theaker fly off into uncharted territory, mimicking strings, horns and God knows what else. After hearing the two bona fide epics on the album (Black Dollar Bills and Me Ves Y Sufres) the first thing you'll want to do is put them on again. And in the absence of Radiohead, The Red The White The Black The Blue serves as an excellent political-indie rock-out. The sheer variety of the sounds on this record is excellent too - from the placid organ intro of Goodhorsehymn to the beautiful orchestral outro of Black Dollar Bills. The final track, 1776, ends with looping harp samples.
Lyrics — 10
However, under all this it's easy to ignore the fantastic vocal performance of Sam Herlihy, whose vocals range from dreamily wandering around a dark piano line in Black Dollar Bills to the sheer anger of The Red The White The Black The Blue ? "Hijack, train wreck, silver wheels/Ring all bells and start the fires now" he bellows over the clattering drums and piano. His lyrics are first-rate too - depressing and disparate as the music may sound, Sam's lyrics tend to be full of hope. Enemies/Friends ends with the repeated line "Come on people, keep your friends close, your enemies don't matter in the end". That said, Me Ves Y Sufres could be one of the most depressing songs ever written. A clever touch is how the tracklisting is tied in with the subject matter of each song. The songs with more depressing subject matter are slowly overwhelmed by a stream of more positive songs - in the space of a few tracks, the "winter riot hopeless blues" of 66 Sleepers To Summer have become the arms-aloft anthems of Nehemiah and Goodhorsehymn. Someone's put a lot of work into getting this right.
Overall Impression — 10
Simply put, The Lost Riots is an absolute masterpiece. Considering it's a debut album, is still stands up right next to the latest offerings by bands who have been around a lot longer (REM, for instance). Although what is in my opinion the band's best song, Static In The Cities, was left off (probably because of it's length - no less than 8 minutes) it still remains an amazing effort. The instrumentation is simply unmatched by all the Franz Ferdinand-alikes who appeared at the same time, and while Sam Herlihy may not have the most enchanting voice on first listen, you will grow to love it.