The next few years of the 2000’s saw the band do their usual 3 year gap between releases and touring giving us 4 new albums and a compilation of previously released eps.
3 years after the magnificent Achtung Bono, the lads followed up it with 2008’s equally magnificent CSI: Ambleside, a play on all the various CSI franchises that seemed to dominate TV schedules. The petty vagaries and annoyances of everyday life are once again set to angry post-punk guitars, ranging from bad loses on yahoo chess, problem chimps, roid rage and blue badge abusers. On the plus side, if your name is Joyce then HMHB have wrote a song in your honour! But the highlight of the album is the closing track National Shite Day, a 6 minute diatribe about how shite modern life can be.
3 years later the lads run of great albums continue with 90 Bisodol Crimond, one of the more lyrically darker HMHB albums.
RSVP, a country folk tinged ballad, tells the story of a dumped boyfriend who just so happens to be providing the catering at the wedding of his ex. It turns out he’s a dab hand at poisoning. If mass murder is not your bag we have Excavating Rita a song about necrophilia! Over the course of the rest of the album lifecoaches are killed in car crashes, Nigel talks of jumping off the roof of Dignitas and a spurned lover launches himself in front of a train. Highlight of the album is once again the closing track (a common theme most HMHB albums have): Rock and Roll Is Full of Bad Wools, an amazingly well pitched stab at celebrity musicians on Soccer AM on one hand and glib bar bands on the other.
Another 3 year gap? Check. Another HMHB album? Check. Another album chock-full of great songs and sarcastic wit? Errr, not quite. Whilst Urge For Offal is fundamentally rocky and occasionally loud, with prominent bass aplenty and these are almost all of the elements you would expect to find in a HMHB album, in some places it does feel a little HMHB-by-numbers for me. It’s been a while since there’s been mis-steps on a HMHB album (Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral) but Urge… has me pushing the skip button on a few occasions. False Grit, Mileage Chart, Stuck Up A Hornbeam and the instrumental Theme For Something Or Other offers very little replay value. Adding to my disappointment of this album, The Unfortunate Gwatkin (one of HMHB’s usual ‘talking’ story album closers) feels like it’s missing a couple of extra minutes of the story. It’s still a great song with a great shout-a-long chorus but it does seem incomplete. It’s not all negative though, Urge For Offal does offer some great HMHB tracks: My Outstretched Arms, Westward Ho!…Massive Letdown, the title track and Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride are all top-tier Biscuit tracks but the highlight of the album is the very un-Biscuit sounding Adam Boyle Has Cast Lad Rock Aside (tied with Old Age for thd best track name) with its many references to the cult movie The Wicker Man (the good one). As an aside, In December 2014, readers of The Guardian voted Urge for Offal best album of the year even though that newspaper had never reviewed or even mentioned it!
2 years later And Some Fell on Stony Ground was released. It’s a compilation album of previously-released eps: Eno Collaboration, Editor’s Recommendation and Saucy Haulage Ballads plus David Wainwright‘s Feet from Colours Are Brighter, a 2006 compilation album in aid of Save The Children. The song is a genuinely funny, cautionary tale about pestering one’s nan for fashionable trainers which has never been addressed before pin the world of rock music (though I’m happy to be corrected!)
After a 4 year hiatus the band released their fourteenth album in 2018, the very wordily titled No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fucking Hedge Cut (hereforth referred to as No-one). Neil’s targets for his scathing lyrics and wit this time around were ignorant contestants on quiz shows, people organising bat walks and the film It’s A Wonderful Life. So far, so HMHB but then comes Terminus, a moving tale about death and growing older; Terminus has some glorious wordplay and imagary worthy of Phillip Larkin and is possibly the best song HMHB has written in their 30+ year career.
So what’s next? Well even if the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions never happened, and going by their previous release schedule, I doubt there would be much movement from the Biscuit chaps until this or maybe next year and true to form, there are signs of life. They did a few tracks for Andy Kershaw’s radio show (in his kitchen, no less!) and they’ve also released a folky track for the Left Bank Soundtrack animated music walk of their home town of Birkenhead, called Frequent Electric Trains, so the hopes for a new album spring eternal and https://halfmanhalfbiscuit.uk/ would be the best place to discover when it’s due and judging by the new material so far, it’ll be, once again, top quality from Britain’s greatest folk band.