Becoming a solo recording artist having been associated with another band or artist, may be one of the hardest things musicians can do. Artists like Billy Bibby, formerly of Catfish and the Bottlemen have recently proved you can have success but it is without doubt a big challenge. The latest artist to break free from their chains is Nick J.D Hodgson, founding member and songwriter of Leeds band The Kaiser Chiefs.
Since 2012 and leaving the band, Hodgson has been working on numerous projects with artists from across the United Kingdom. Having written huge global hits such as Ruby and I Predict a Riot, it came as no surprise hearing the new record for the first time, that every song was well crafted and an enjoyable listen. Whilst many of the tracks resemble early Kaiser Chiefs material, Hodgson has grown as both songwriter and musician on Tell Your Friends and overall the sound is a more personal one that reflects really well on first listen.
Track opener RSVP takes listeners to a place only bands like E.L.O tend to be able to. You become engrossed in the melody and the lyrics from the start of the record and the sound is so fresh and new it provides a welcome start to the album. Honest Face and I Love the Way Your Mind Works could sit on any Kaiser Chiefs record. With similar melodies and sounds to Unemployment and The Angry Mob you can tell Hodgson has stuck to his songwriting roots on his debut solo effort. Whilst not completely against this, these two tracks at times feel a little close to his past and it’s on tracks like Suitable you really see the solo quality of Hodgson much more.
Tomorrow I Love You is the album highlight both melodically and lyrically. Track 5 is the most unique sounding on the record and uses a range of instruments to create an eclectic mix of sounds that becomes a mash up of Toploader, The La’s and E.L.O. It’s an exceptional piece of songwriting that could go amiss by many listeners looking for four chord music with a catchy hook or two.
The second half of the album could almost belong to a different artist, such is the transition. Feel Better and My Own American Dream are driven by powerful riff lines that are complemented by the vocal effects Hodgson has mixed onto the tracks. Iceberg provides another highlight of this superb record. Stripping the song right back to piano, Hodgson explores his softer side, something the album hugely benefits from. Bowie-esque, track 7 is the track to get lost in when you’re in on your own with the lights turned down. A stunning track.
Thank You was the song that set the whole project off, and thank god that it did because Tell Your Friends is one of the best albums written in recent times. The track is probably, musically the weakest on the album, but the sentimentality of it, setting off the album project, and the personal feelings attached to it mean it’s a vital part of the record. Closing song Don’t Forget To Sleep is a fitting end to an album that makes me feel both dreamy but invigorated by new music. Stylistically on point, Don’t Forget To Sleep is a simple closing track but one that rounds off the record with poise.
Nick J.D Hodgson has crafted an album that deserves incredible recognition. Having produced some of the biggest tracks in the UK over the past 15 years, this set of tracks, although won’t top the charts any time soon, offer food for thought and allow listeners to reflect on their life in a special way. It’s an emotional, sentimental record that I’ve since found myself playing on repeat after the first listen. Go and get lost in these ten songs; remember what it’s like to hear that band that made you fall in love with music because that’s exactly what Nick Hodgson has done for me with Tell Your Friends.
Tell Your Friends is released through Prediction Records on 26th January 2018 and available on all formats via all usual outlets and is available to pre-order. Nick will then play a free show to launch the album the following Monday after its release (29th Jan).