Have you ever wondered what your friends say behind you back? Not the edited version, the spin or the pitch, but the backstabbing, the barb and the bitch? The Hepburns (Wales) have returned with an album championing the ordinary, the downtrodden and the broken. That said, How the Fallen Are Mighty also just happens to represent The Hepburns at their cattiest, as they skewer couch surfers, hack writers, sexual taxonomists, civil servants, store greeters and (more often than not) themselves at every turn. With the exception of one track ("Growing Old", a devastating but quite possibly optimistic haiku to the fading mind), How the Fallen Are Mighty is all barb, all bitch, all the time.
Although the starting musical reference point remains classic guitar pop (think Brilliant Corners, Smiths, Lucksmiths), inspirations from outside the genre abound, encompassing the barbershop-meets-Yazoo of "Delores" (ode to a glowering cashier), om-pa-pa for jazz guitar, tuba and tub-thumping narrator ("One More Notch on the Bedpost"), Addams Family-meets-Specials-meets-The Pink Panther-meets-Charlotte Bronte ("The Help"), car-chase instrumentals ("Save Your Stories for the Police, Maurice"), growling 50s musical camp (the indignant Matt Jones reveling in his social status as "Persona Non Grata") and the angular, bass-forward groove (in-kraut or post punk?) of "Man Missing."
- Alexander Bailey
“How the Fallen Are Mighty is the work of a poet. A mosaic of witty, fantastical, individualistic songs that sound well alone and collectively form a breathtaking panorama of lyrical imagery and eclectic sound. I don’t know where this work stands in today’s polluted pop waters, but I fancy that back in the more bracing airs of 1981 it would have been celebrated as the major achievement it surely is.”
—Mike Alway, él Records
"I've loved the Hepburns since Goalmouth Incident and can say with complete honesty (and signed in blood) that with every album they just get better. Songs like ‘Man Missing’, ‘Vermouth’, ‘Dolores’, ‘Nobody Loves Me’ and ‘Sad, Free, Excited and Empty’ have all — after a single meagre listen — placed themselves effortlessly onto the short list of all-time indiepop classics. After several listens, I was hospitalized for severe happiness."
—Corey W. Schmidt, Central Services
“I have no idea what happened. One minute I was at a madcap yet elegant party trading barbs with shimmying sophisticates, and the next I was in a gutter with my lapels askew and this album clutched in my trembling hands. Where did the Hepburns come from? What have they done to me? Why does the rest of life seem so dull in comparison?”