Los Angeles-based songwriter Hanni El Khatib released his first album, Will The Guns Come Out, in 2011. The sound falls largely into the indie genre, but ranges from a hoppy punk sound to a more sonorous acoustic aesthetic. There are sixties undertones in the syncopation and harmonies, and on the whole, El Khatib creates a playful and altogether interesting and entertaining album. After having opened for indie pop bombshell Florence + the Machine, Hanni El Khatib played some shows at South by Southwest and surely has a strong future ahead of him, perhaps in the way of indie giants Arcade Fire and The Black Keys.
El Khatib’s style could best be described as unpredictable and off-kilter. On songs such as “You Rascal You,” his sound is not unlike Jack White with a punctuated yet minimal syncopated guitar line, yet on “Wait Wait Wait,” he produces a mellower piece, more along the styling of Sufjan Stevens or even Death Cab for Cutie in the Plans era. It’s certainly not polished, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good to listen to.
On the contrary, Hanni El Khatib’s opening track may have some listeners scratching their heads. Atonal and accompanied by a chant of the titular phrase, it sets the stage nicely for an album that maintains the listener’s attention for its entirety. The diversity of sound is the most impressive part of the album. In addition, it is the kind of sound that grows on you the more you listen to it. While the listener may at first be caught off guard by the more raucous tracks that head out the album, the nuances become clearer with each listen.
To put simply, this is one to watch. El Khatib will surely rise in the ranks of the indie scene. The versatility and clear talent which he displays in Will The Guns Come Out rivals some of the bigger names in the alternative world and he is off to a good start by pairing with fellow up-and-comer Florence Welch.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
-Wait Wait Wait
-Build, Destroy, Rebuild
The Big Hit
Review by Sarah Richmond