Deja vous: It’ll get you eventually. I evaded it for years, but it struck me suddenly the other day. There I was, sitting around listening to the Hong Kong’s Rock the Faces, when I became certain I had done the same thing in exactly the same setting before. Both times it was disgustingly hot. Both times it was disgustingly sunny. And both times that damn Hong Kong album was playing. What gives?
And then it struck me: the Hong Kong has been around the block before — a New York City block to be exact. Last summer the Hong Kong, buzz band and Other Music Darling of the City, released its debut EP, Rock the Faces (sound familiar?). Soon after came playtime in local bars and clubs, but the “buzz” was completely deserved; the band’s blend of Blondie and My Bloody Valentine struck a perfect balance for the kids who liked to dance and the kids who, well, didn’t. “Mazerati” blends a quick drum ‘n’ bass pace with the icy speak-sing of Catherine Culpepper; “Galaxies” is tonal fuzz at its purest — and best — form, with the guitar and the keyboard in perfect harmony. There’s just enough ’60s rock in their new-wave pop to make the Hong Kong’s music seem not entirely trite.
But that was last year, and between the local and the national release of Rock the Faces, everyone except the band has changed. New York lost interest as the band proved less-than-exciting live, and music has evolved and moved past the point it was at last summer. Can we return to the Hong Kong if we’ve moved on to the Unicorns? This is what differentiates legends from long-gones, and Rock the Faces falls into the latter category. While lacking glaring or embarrassing faults, the album will represent a moment in time rather than an era. It was perfect last summer, and though it’s just as blistering this year, I expect to find something a little different playing from speakers.