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Outside Closer

Outside Closer

In the time that Hood has been a band, many others have come and gone. Although I haven't followed them for their full decade-plus (nearly 15 years, actually) span, I have been with the group for closing in on a decade and must admit they're a group that always has my attention when they release an album, simply because they always seem to be pushing their sound and style into a slightly different direction. Their last album Cold House was by far their most unique, incorporating electronics in a way that felt perfectly natural and even somehow pulling cLOUDDEAD members in for vocal work on a couple tracks.

If their last album seemed like a drastic change to their longtime fans, then Outside Closer will seem like more of a logical succession of sound. Taking both techniques that they used on their last album, as well as reverting back even further in their catalog (at this point, it's hard to even believe the group started out doing sparse, droney post rock). After the short, filtered intro track simply titled "(Int)," the album really gets underway with what is also the first single from the album. "The Negatives..." punches with crisp beats and quick orchestral stabs while filtered guitars glitch and flutter and two-part vocals trade up. If you can imagine lush, slightly melancholy indie hip-hop with melodic vocals, it's something like that.

"Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive" mixes sharp bursts of electronics and programmed beats with simple acoustic guitars and warm vocals while quick bursts of other elements (live percussion, harpsichord) flit into the mix. About halfway through, the track comes together with all the elements and feels even more complete. Although it's not as stark as some of their earlier work, "Winter 72" is a nice look back as a whole stew of instrumentation and vocals are drenched in a huge wave of reverberation, bleeding all the sections of the track together without becoming a dragging dirge.

"The Lost You" brings back the quick bursts of hip-hop influenced programming and might be the most pop-sounding track on the release, yet it doesn't sound out-of-place next to tracks like the more stripped-down and droning "L.Fading Hills." Like Cold House (and many of their albums, actually), lyrics seem to focus on locations and the feelings that they evoke. Even if you don't share the same local with the group, their observations seem to work applied to any place that strong feelings are conjured. Given the group has created another strong release, hopefully the last track on the album (entitled "This Is It, Forever") isn't about the future of the group.

Rating: 8