Head In The Dirt
Innovative Leisure Records
Hanni El Khati’s second album was produced by Dan Auberbach, and at times, the level of influence exerted on his sound by The Black Keys descends into parody. This is particularly so here on the closing brace of the fuzzed out Sinking In The Sand and the muted-then-expansive House On Fire. When sticking to his own voice, however, Khatib delivers a distinct, thrilling and diverse rock record.
A tendency to musical bombast is nicely offset by Khatib’s thin, reedy pipes and his comfort with different genres. Things really start to cook on the sinister reggae of Skinny Little Girl and the flame bright soul stomper, Penny. This starts a string of six straight killers, stopping at wah wah stomp on Can’t Win ‘Em All and Sabbath exploding out of bratty garage punk on Pay No Mind. By the time the sextet closes with the deliciously seductive polyrhythms of Low, you can forgive its slight sigh of an ending.
This is a good, at times great rock’n’roll album, a collection of songs you want to have a drink with. Khatib’s been quoted as saying he makes records for anyone who’s been shot or hit by a train. He’s playful and inventive enough that he could take that subject matter to some interesting places.