Beggars Banquet / Too Pure
By: Eric G.
Hefner is a pure pop outfit that plays the self-deprecating songs of Darren Hayman. Hayman’s voice is very English and very strained, but he delivers his heart-felt musings with a tone not too unlike Jonathan Richman’s exaggerated inflection. Hefner’s inherent cleverness brings Belle And Sebastian to mind but its heart-on-your-sleeve tenderness recalls David Gedge of The Wedding Present.
Boxing Hefner compiles several radio sessions and a few live favorites that weren’t featured on the band’s first two albums: Breaking God’s Heart and The Fidelity Wars. From the sweet melodies of “Christian Girls” to the infectious hooks of “Pull Yourself Together”, Hefner can’t help but churn out catchy, classic pop. And these are just radio sessions and unreleased tracks- most bands would kill for “leftovers” of this quality.
On “Blind Girl With Halo” Hayman woefully bemoans: “a rejection note written in Braille/hear my smoke-filled larynx wail/cigarettes make me feel alone/and her voice gives a lonely tone to my song.” Everything that comes out of this guy’s mouth is gold. There’s a folk-ish quality to Hayman’s confessional delivery, but the music bears a certain resemblance to the Velvet Underground. I can’t imagine a better band to listen to after a break-up. I want to break up with my girlfriend just so I can relate to it more.
It’s almost uncanny when Hefner actually covers the Jonathan Richman tune, “To Hide A Little Thought”- Hayman slips into character so effortlessly. The band always used to close its shows with “Twisting Mary’s Arm” and vowed never to record it, but it relented and, thankfully, put the country-tinged shout-along to tape. Finally, a band that makes wallowing in misery a cheery way to blow an evening.