British band The Hempolics have kept their fans longing after a long player for quite some time, but now they're finally presenting 'Kiss, Cuddle & Torture: Volume 1', the first part of what will eventually will become a set of three albums. Asked about his inspiration for this project, band leader Grippa Laybourne replied: "I love those NYC gangs from the 50s, The Wanderers, The Warriors. I needed my own gang to make my rebel music!". That "gang" are Nubiya Brandon (vocals), Dan 'Dandelion' Collier (vocals), Harry Collier (vocals), Lorenzo (bass), Leon King (guitar) and Craig Boorman (drums), supplemented with guest vocalists like Paolo Nuttini and Maxi Jazz (Faithless). The title of the album on the one hand perfectly captures the bitter-sweetness of life, but is also a reference to The Hempolics' creative process: "Some songs are explosive like a kiss and work instantly, some need a cuddle and some take a long, long time to get right-they're the torture.". In the track list a mix of dubby urban reggae (single 'Boss Clock Me Style', somewhat reminiscent of Hollie Cook's style, you might already have heard somewhere, but 'Hurts So Good' and 'High & Gritty' sound equally contagious), trip hop ('Black Flower', 'In My Brain' feat. Maxi Jazz), a dash of rock (opener 'Early In The Morning', 'In My Brain'), dub poetry 2.0 ('Warrior Sound') and even some instrumental Asian surf ('Samurai'). And if like yours truly, you get the intoxicating riddim of 'Life Ain't Easy' stuck in your head, the original was 'Little Things', an obscure rocksteady single by a certain Hemsley Morris (that being said, you might also know it from Mike Brooks' 'No Brother Man'). Maxi Jazz already described The Hempolics as: "... the best band in the UK - but nobody knows it yet...". 'Kiss, Cuddle & Torture: Volume 1' sounds innovative, daring and remains a very enjoyable record from start to finish, so the Faithless-chief might well be right!