Coming to terms with coming of age is the subject of new single ’20’ by Liverpool’s exciting exponents of fuzzy, wobbly alt. rock, Hannah’s Little Sister. The four-piece, part of the ever-evolving scene around the city’s performing arts school, LIPA, contain two members who grew up forty miles north-east in Burnley. It’s this background, growing up different in a small town, distant enough from the bright lights of the (relatively) big city, that sits in the background of all of Hannah’s Little Sister’s work, and ’20’ is an excellent introduction.
Drawing from a similarly shronky well to Lancaster’s The Lovely Eggs, and the equally prodigious Halifax upstarts The Orielles, ’20’ kicks off at a disarmingly slow-pace, with a guitar lead that’s only slightly atonal. Lead singer Meg’s delivery is deadpan and languid – appropriate for someone who wants to “say how they feel /…speak so eloquently” but is “too rough to motivate”.
Even the song’s bridge appears reluctant to begin with, with just a bit more reverb and bass hammer coming after a majorly satisfying pause in the rhythm. And so, with a note of resignation, the chorus collapses into being, like a drunk teetering on the edge of nausea. “I can’t do nothing about it, baby” sings Meg – the phrase is the song’s hook musically, but thematically too; a sense of inability at the start of a ‘post-teen crisis’. The wish to be a success, meeting deadlines and speaking different languages, but finding that the goalposts have moved and that life is full of contradictions. It’s a theme appropriately well-illustrated by the song’s video, showing the band using beer to wash down mouthfuls of squirty cream, lighting up fags from candles on a Colin The Caterpillar birthday cake, and mixing Ribena with white wine.
By the time the song’s second bridge has come, yelping away, to an end, and the second chorus ensues, its fabric has become increasingly stretched, vocals extra panicked, guitars full of anguish and drums more paranoia-inducing. It never quite falls into chaos – at least not until its very end – but, much like the nagging throughout your final year at university, the threat of failure is always there. Ironic then that with this opening single, Hannah’s Little Sister promise big success.