This album wasn’t actually supposed to happen at all. In the press and interviews for Hi, the tenth studio album from Texas, Sharleen Spiteri has said that they were actually working on an entirely different project; namely, the 30th anniversary of their debut album Southside from 1989.
In the process, herself and songwriting partner Johnny McElhone unearthed lost songs and demos from the sessions for what is widely regarded as their breakthrough album, 1997’s White On Blonde, the songs from which inspired them to do a whole new album instead.
It is somewhat fitting then, that for an act who haven’t hit the top 10 in over a decade (singles wise, anyway) that this new album is their most accomplished to rank up there with their material that sold by the truckload back in the late 90s.
It gets off to fine form with current single ‘Mr Haze’, a roaring return with its Tamla-Motown aping jangly guitar sound and Donna Summer sample and a chorus that is simply divine to the ear, sonically on a par with hits like ‘Black Eyed Boy’ and ‘When We Are Together’.
The album’s title track is a most interesting one too, as it reunites them with Wu Tang Clan – Method Man from whom of course, notably duetted with Sharleen on a version of ‘Say What You Want’ at the BRIT Awards in 1998. That it sounds like it could have come from either that time or now is testament to what is a key strength of this album as a whole.
Whilst the album does hop around on a few different genres – 80s new wave on ‘Look What You’ve Done’, and what can only be described as hillbilly folk on ‘Sound of My Voice’, the 60s references are prevalent throughout, especially on glorious tracks like ‘Moonstar’, ‘Dark Fire’ and ‘Heaven Knows’.
And for those who may have lost touch with Texas since their imperial phase (there has been another four studio albums since that time, if that’s the case for any casual ears reading this), if you take the time to investigate Hi, it is nothing less than a brilliant rebirth.
Their ear for strong melodies, and Sharleen’s powerful but simple soul led vocals are all still intact, and they’ve managed to encapsulate that all whilst still bringing their sound bang up to date. And there’s not many acts who were launched in 1989 that are still going who you can say that about today.
STREAM THESE: ‘Mr Haze’, ‘Heaven Knows’, ‘Moonstar’, ‘Just Want To Be Liked’
‘Hi’ is available to stream and download now via BMG. Texas’ UK and Ireland tour will kick off at the Opera House in Cork on 9th February next year. Twitter: @texastheband
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