Review Summary: Ask again later.
Despite being heckled the tag they least wanted – the “unoriginal” one – it’s surprisingly difficult to work out just which ‘dead genre’ It Hugs Back caters to. That’s not to say it’s an unfamiliar sound, but more that for all forty minutes the quartet do nothing but meander: it’s not going quiet places, it’s not going loud places, and it’s not really going anywhere. In fact, after nine songs bridging that dreamy interlude between shoegaze and all other indie genres, the tenth simply stutters on a riff and escapes. So even if Inside Your Guitar
isn’t 2009’s least derivative debut, at least we know it’s giving the band a thinking forum.
Inside Your Guitar
goes on succeeding in a glazed trend where the pop potential stays subdued: “Work Day” strums guitar every second of the song’s forefront and ends up with no void left unfilled, but in doing so coats over vocal work which can’t quite be grasped at anyway. This constant noise may not be a problem for other feedback obsessions such as last year’s Microcastle
, but that was because it got uptight; throughout Inside Your Guitar
nobody’s bold unless its through an amplifier, as in the no-destination exit of “Don’t Know”, toying with the listener for twenty seconds of loud, proud bliss. For an album all about the electric thud, It Hugs Back settle softly and the whispery words that accompany the racket are as good as unsaid.
It may be all they’ve got, but the tender option can work quite well when the band aren’t intending otherwise (that is: to rock out with it). As proven by “Now And Again”, Inside Your Guitar
can’t catch captivation when trying its hardest, but It Hugs Back works best when going all out mellow, because the only world the group know is restraint; the opening riff for “Forgotten Song” casts back to lazy days dwindled away with American Football – a ballad constructed so well that for all its slow climax, it doesn’t need to end up anywhere. “Remember” knows the exact same pattern, with everything from vocal drones to drumbeat kept at arms length, slowly peeling away three directionless minutes.
Inside Your Guitar
can be split into those two trends of mellow and melodramatic, but layer after layer of instrument won’t tower above It Hugs Back forever. It’s moments such as that delicate “Forgotten Song” that will need to shape a sophomore release, because when modesty is done away with, the quartet simply need to come out of hiding. And since they kept all doors open, so should I.