Throughout the past year, I’ve managed to spill a bit of virtual ink covering British electro pop outfit and JOVM mainstays H2SO4. Formed in Kent back in the late 90s, the act — Graham Cupples (keys, programming), Darren Till (keys, programming) and James Butler (vocals, bass) — features a collection of accomplished musicians: Cupples previously led techno acts Mortal and Code. Till played with Cupples in Code. Butler contributed bass and vocals in indie rock act Lobster, which was once known as Sulpher.
The trio can trace their origins back to when they started experimenting with a series of remixes that lead to original material that blended electronica, rock and techno paired with a special attention to songwriting. Their debut single, 1998’s “Little Soul,” quickly became popular in their native England — and because of its extremely limited release, a collector’s item.
The trio’s 1999 full-length debut Machine Turned Blues featured the aforementioned “Little Soul,” as well as “I Need Feel,” “The Way I Want,” and “Imitation Leather Jacket,” a track that was a favorite among British DJs — and received radio play here in the States. They supported Machine Turned Blues by playing a series of festivals across the British festival circuit, including Glastonbury — and they played shows in Canada and Chicago.
2000’s Glamtronica saw the British trio further establishing their sound while adding a playful sense of satire to the mix. The act disappeared until 2015’s Under Control. They disappeared again until last year’s Love and Death.
This year, H2SO4 has been very busy with the release of a batch of singles and a remix:
- “Fast Cars,” a swaggering Brit Pop meets Big Beat banger that sonically nodded at the likes of Kasabian, The Chemical Brothers and Evil Heat era Primal Scream — and meant to be played as loudly as possible.
- “Electroworld,” a sleek and slickly produced, club and lounge friendly bop featuring thumping beats, glisteninlg and woobly synth arpeggios and Butler’s insouciant yet sultry delivery paired with the trio’s unerring knack for crafting an infectious, razor sharp hook.
- “Best Shot,” a strutting bop with an infectious hook that nods at Electronic‘s “Getting Away With It” and The Chemical Brothers “Come With Us” but with a chilled out, lounge/salon friendly vibe.
- The BassBears remix of “White Light,” a house music inspired track centered around glistening synth arpeggios, wobbling bass synths, skittering beats paired with Butler’s vulnerable delivery and a rousingly anthemic hook. The end result is a club banger that sonically is a synthesis of In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Balearic house.
The British JOVM mainstays close out 2022 with “Crash Test Dummy,” an arena rock friendly take on the big beat sound centered around skittering beats, woozy synth arpeggios and an enormous hook. Sonically “Crash Test Dummy” is a slick synthesis of Evil Heat-era Primal Scream and Tweekend-era The Crystal Method while rooted incisive, satirical lyricism.