Guilty Hands write songs about serial killers, doomed soldiers and sex in graveyards, but manage to do it without sounding like a bunch of pasty goths. That's an impressive feat, and this is an impressive single, an assured, confident indie rock treat featuring a guitar sound which I'm almost obliged to describe as 'razor-sharp'.
The A-side kicks off with a sample from cult Marlon Brando movie 'The Wild One', the same film that provided scuzzy indie stalwarts Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with their name. "Hey Johnny", a girl's voice asks, "What are you rebelling against?". Guilty Hands don't sample the leather-jacketed Brando's iconic reply, 'What have you got?", but the words hang unspoken over the track as a spiky, aggressive guitar riff rings out and singer Gareth Moss moans his Placebo-ish opening words: 'Cropped boys/For Uncle Sam/With breasts/Compressed'. Synths buzz darkly as the band launch into their chorus; 'Cut cut! Slash slash! You've got your razor!'. The imagery is dark and violent, but there's enough energy and focus on show to keep things from sagging into doomy gothic cliches, and both the chorus and the short, squealing guitar solo will remain with you after the song finishes.
B-side 'The Collector' is good too. It's theatrical tale of a man who 'walks these city streets/hunting for beauty'. It's difficult to take lines like 'pretty/stuck, sticky sticky/and all lined up for me' too seriously, but that's fine because the band don't either: this is arch, slightly camp stuff, in the vein of Nick Cave's old band The Birthday Party, although without their eccentricity and boundary-pushing inventiveness. Besides Placebo, one can hear a little of Interpol in their music; fans of either of those bands should give 'Razor' a listen.