Let’s get it out of the way – King Hannah‘s lead singer, Hannah Merrick, insists that this wonderful, mournful lilt is really, genuinely about the 1980s dessert fave. But, even if that’s true, there’s still a lot to read into ‘Crème Brûlée’: the dessert itself consists of a tough skin sitting on top of a softer side, not unlike the passionate longing of the song’s lyrics. Even how the thing is made: the burning of caramel laid in custard, not entirely dissimilar to the way Hannah’s vocals mix into the song’s thick layers of ethereal backing before a flambé of a guitar solo from guitarist Craig Whittle finishes off the song.
It’s also entirely possible that the title and Hannah’s comments about it are merely deflection, a culinary tongue-in-cheek. That wouldn’t be too out of character for the band, whose approach to self-promotion could be described as somewhat reluctant, especially by today’s standards. And they’ve got form – in one interview, Merrick described the band’s mixture of sorrowful Americana (in the vein of Lera Lynn) as a fusion of “Flashdance and MC Hammer”. It all lends an aura of other-worldliness around a group who seem as tight, implacable and hypnotic on record as they do live.
With a moreish, deceptively simple, country-meets-indie flow set around Merrick’s deadpan Nico-style vocal delivery, ‘Crème Brûlée’ is an impressive choice for a debut release, particularly clocking in at a mammoth six and a half minutes – half of which is pure instrumentation. If you’ve seen the band live, you’ll probably be aware that, although this is a spectacular starter, it’s just a glimpse into what King Hannah can do. They’ve gone straight to dessert, so you’d better have left room for more.
‘Crème Brûlée’ is available to stream on Spotify now.