Going to Hell is the new album from Lande Hekt and it offers a compelling tension between the music and the subject matter of Hekt dealing with coming out as gay. As reflective and honest as the lyrics are this record is no pity party of low register vocals over slow minor chords, it is a joyous and infectious clatter of guitars, solid bass, and drums (all played by Hekt) with soaring tunes twisting through the instruments. Coming out in a society that still harbours misguided people and institutions who seek to marginalise you, at best, and ‘correct you’ at worst is one of life’s the great sadness’s and Lande Hekt expresses it best herself in the press release:
“Homophobia and heteronormative culture can make you feel isolated and scared of being yourself. I internalised a lot of that culture for a long time and it wasn’t until I found myself surrounded by queer and trans people and friends, that I realised I could live happily in a way that felt right. I know I’m not alone in feeling like this and it was other people sharing their experiences with me that helped me out, so I named the album after this song to try and reach people who might want to be reached. It’s also not a dig on all Catholics; it’s just an expression of scepticism from a gay person regarding conservatism.”
Many of the tracks on Going to Hell show Hekt’s thought processes, worries and paranoias, but this album has an overall buoyancy that holds the good afloat above the roiling sea of hopes and fears. Hekt cites acts like The Replacements, The Raincoats, Sharon Van Etten, The Slits and Patti Smith as influences, and I hear that utilisation of their rawness with the power of indie-pop, like an angry-happy stew of Billy Bragg and Jenny Lewis. Many of Hekt’s songs have a glorious light and dark quality like the moment before a race begins; it could be Formula One, greyhounds or the 100-meter sprint, but there is the delicious anticipation of the explosive moment when engines roar, dogs snarl and the starter pistols reverberates. Take for example the tracks ‘Whisky’ or ‘Undone’ in which the chunk-chunk-chunk of dampened guitar give way to fat chords which hit you like enormous rain drops in a warm Summer’s downpour. These are full band assaults that nearly drowns out Hekt herself and maybe inadvertently that was the feeling Lande Hekt was going for: fighting not to get lost in a world that doesn’t always accept you and letting music be the medium that acts not only as therapy but also a joyful act of accepting who you are and finding your tribe. That joy is beautifully on show in the video for ‘Whisky’ (below) filmed by Lande’s long-term collaborator Martyna Wisniewska and depicting Lande’s love with girlfriend Lucy.