After the untimely death of a founding member (Willie Eckerslike - born Tom McGrath) in 2010, you might have expected Northern comedy band The Hotpots to have taken a backseat or even call it a day. But to the delight of fans the nation over, they're back to continue an impressive run of output that has seen an album released every year since their debut, 'Never Mind the Hotpots' back in 2007.
With a great collection of hilarious odes to Northern culture and modern life in general, the band absolutely hit the comedy nail on the head. Within the first two tracks here, the band cover religion ('pie-entology' to be specific, and the North's love of the crusty baked dish) and the bane of everyone's life - tissues being left in your pockets when clothes go in the washing machine. This track, funnily enough entitled 'Tissue In The Wash' is stretched out to a five-and-a-half-minute fist-clenching power ballad full of guitar solos and impassioned vocals about 'leaving it on the radiator!' and 'take it to the dry cleaners!' - its a subject matter that might seem surreal, yet, as with the humour of Peter Kay, is universal and means nobody is left out of the joke. 'The Baking Song' (the lead single from the LP) is a throwaway, folk-tinged number full of ripe innuendo (master bakers, licking the bowl, tasting people's filling and big utensils are par for the course here) and is all the better for it.
Returning to the band's love of a good pint of ale, 'Liquid Lunch' takes in the habit of grabbing a quick thirst-quencher during the working day. It's perhaps not as immediate as the other songs on this collection, but with the Hotpots there's not really such a thing as filler on their albums. 'I'm Going to Poundland' is a smile-raising Dylan-meets-Johnny Cash style number about women who like the finer things in life, and one man's rebellion in the discount stores found on the high street.
'My Wife Is An Ann Summer's Rep' is a song you can't really believe the Hotpots haven't written before - recalling a house full of horny middle-aged women laughing at sex toys from the point of view of a disapproving husband. It's done with a glorious hoe-down accompaniment and is in itself a great snapshot of social commentary.
'Wowzers Me Trousers' deals with the division of household chores in a relationship, and the age old danger of having to do the washing up when someone else cooks. 'The Technical Support Song' is another folk strumalong about the timeless advice of turning a PC off and on again and pressing Control, Alt and Delete. It's a simple song, yet the genius lies in combining true to life lyrics with a catchy melody. 'Pots On Pots' is a rather bizarre accordian-fuelled ode to yodelling, which is the only song that feels a little forced on an album that, dare I say it, displays elements of the concept album in that it's themed around Northern life, stereotypes and habits.
Whereas the Hotpots are willing to poke fun every so often at the north and its inhabitants, 'We Love The North' as you expect details its highlights and displays a patriotic sense of pride at living in that part of the country. A similar theme was explored on their earlier song 'This Lancashire Town' (where the protagonist eventually ditched the North to take a job in Coventry for more pay). 'Purple Zone' contrasts the differences between holidaying in Spain and the trials of trying to find the car in the airport car park when you get home - its another riotously funny and true take on life as we know it: we've all been there. Drinking is explored again on 'It Were A Brilliant Night', a sometimes poignant (but mostly belly-ache funny) recalling of a rather excellent night on the town with the boys that escalated from 'a quiet one or two after work'.
It's impossible to find anything major to quibble about on this album, and apart from one or two less-than-essential tracks, its a laugh a minute expedition through the current state of Britain. If you enjoy your comedy, you have to get this. And while you're at it, check out the rest of the Hotpots back catalogue - your life isn't complete until you've sang along to 'Chippy Tea'.
RECOMMENDED TO DOWNLOAD: The Wigan Church of Pies/Tissue In The Wash/The Baking Song/It Were A Brilliant Night
The Wigan Church of Pies
Tissue In The Wash
The Baking Song
I'm Going to Poundland
My Wife Is An Ann Summer's Rep
Wowzers Me Trousers
The Technical Support Song
'Pots on Pots
We Love The North
It Were A Brilliant Night