Hope of the States should have been massive. They gained a huge cult following and would sit quite easily in our top 5 bands of all time, but they never quite crossed over into the masses. Phenomenal live shows with incredible projections, a stunning debut album in ‘The Lost Riots’ and a wonderfully close relationship with their fan base that matched Reuben’s, they released their second album in 2006 and despite it being pretty great and gaining positive reviews, they just stopped – finishing with a typically intense performance at Reading Festival. Since then, frontman Sam Herlihy briefly formed The Northwestern – an altogether more relaxed indie-pop band – and then spent his time ‘raising a family and working shit jobs’.
Now with fresh impetus, he’s unveiled his new project, the quartet Racetrack Gospel, ahead of the release of what promises to be a fascinating book about his time in HotS. ‘Wiseblood’ cracks in with some psychedelia-tinged keys before his familiar voice comes in talking about how: ‘I’m a father of two, with a home to get back to’. As the song ups the tempo, the lyrics become more personal and self-depreciating as he goes on to talk about his cut lip and bruises. As the military drums kick in, you can’t help but think of HotS especially when the chorus kicks in: ‘They say we are the light and the way’. Mixing the atmospheric elements of his old band’s early work with the more straight-up rock sound of ‘Blood Meridian’ and perhaps a touch of Wild Beasts-esque peculiarity, there’s also a healthy love of intelligent 60s pop shining through… It’s a delight to hear Sam with his creative spark back, we’re rushing to hear more.
The ‘Wiseblood’ EP will be released on 20 July.