When releasing a third album, you could expect that a band would go just a bit further to ensure that those listeners as yet unacquainted with their music got to know enough about the musicians in order to enhance their aural experience of said album. What do Tankus The Henge do? Obfuscate their image with photographs that are either distorted or just a silhouette of the entire 6-piece outfit. Big help guys, not that I’m overly interested in shoes and haircuts etc but more is occasionally preferable to less. Dig a little deeper though – as you will have to – and there is a half hidden provenance to the music and themes of ‘Luna Park’
Henge frontman, songwriter and vocalist Jaz Delorean is from a family of show people, with waltzers and ghost trains amongst his earliest memories, a background that informs the Henge’s music and philosophy, and listening to ‘Luna Park!’ does indeed resemble an audio visit to a fairground. It’s busy, loud and raucous, shouts and other voices are everywhere around, it’s colourful and brash, energetic, and you might win a goldfish or a coconut. Metaphorically, of course.
‘Luna Park!’ is also verging on a concept album of sorts. The idea is that Luna Park itself is some kind of secretive location populated with all manner of odd and eccentric characters, some of whom appear in the album’s songs themselves – Sundance Kid, Susie Sidewinder, Fayaway and doubtlessly anonymous others inhabit the albums 12 tracks, and it says much about Tankus The Henge that they are able to bring all of this to life with the sort of musical effrontery that just isn’t heard enough of nowadays.
The soulful stomp of ‘Fayaway’, the first single taken from the album, might lead you to expect a sixties based sound reminiscent of Dexys, but there is far more to the Tankus The Henge experience than this. Opening track ‘God, Oil and Money’ sways along bolstered by a brass section and it doubtlessly makes for a fitting introduction at all those festival shows. The title track is a prog rock riff taken at a breakneck pace, indeed it’s easy to imagine it blaring from the roller coaster ticket booth at the Henge theme park. ‘Back To You’ is a bass-heavy electronic ballad that takes a nod towards the XX amongst others, while ‘Susie Sidewinder’ is a burlesque anthem that sounds like about twenty songs simultaneously, none of whose titles you’ll be able to remember..
As adept at performing prog rock, swing jazz, funk and soul, ska and rocksteady, plus some unnamed combination of all of these that represents their own sound, Tankus The Henge have found themselves compared with Squeeze, the Kinks, early Genesis, Blur and numerous other influential bands, and a listen to ‘Luna Park’ ought to convince even the most sceptical that those comparisons aren’t just hype or exaggeration. On a dreary locked down November afternoon, a visit to ‘Luna Park!’ is exactly what’s needed.