t’s hardly useful to judge the band Hood by their previous work. Few other bands in the past decade have moved in so many directions at once, while ostensibly standing still enough to be identified easily each time out. Sure, the Anticon-inflected glitch-hop of Cold House marked an enormous break from the lo-fi pop sounds of yore, but one never found themselves wondering what band was playing on the record. The same goes for the group’s newest album, Outside Closer.
It’s as bleak-sounding as its predecessors, and rife with the echo chamber that seems miles-long, but shows the band searching once again outside itself for answers. The songs are long, meditative journeys that hardly hew to anything but a post-rock mode of songwriting, wherein the songs move along at their own pace, unconcerned with verse or chorus. But gone this time, for the most part, is the glitchiness and the rapping that predominated Cold House. In its place is an increased reliance on violin and other acoustic instruments. In essence, it sounds, at times, like the breezy counterpart to Bark Psychosis’ ///Codename: Dustsucker.
It may sound strange to say breezy in relation to Hood, but consider the comparison and be ready for a surprise on Outside Closer. The acoustic guitar tracks that seem to pop up on each track here are unfurled Iron and Wine-esque gems.
The big exception is single, “The Lost You,” which sounds like little else on the album. Taking in Prefuse 73’s important lessons and refracting them to their sensibility, it makes the group sound positively vital. The energy, however, is never replicated and over time it becomes clear that the song is an outlier, rather than the rule. And the band doesn’t seem to have any interest in following it up.
Which is understandable, considering its relative brilliance. But it bears mentioning that it sounds out of place here among the positively shambolic rest of the album—an album which most usually sees the band rolling out the steady thudding tempos that typify their certain brand of post-rock that allows for the requisite improvisation to occur overtop.
Which, again, makes it the sunnier counterpart to Bark Psychosis’ most recent effort. And uch like Graham Sutton’s project, it’s a beautiful restatement of the group’s strengths—and a consolidation of the gains made on Cold House. Simply put, Outside Closer is merely one more chapter in one of England’s greatest and most under-recognized bands.
Reviewed by: Sarah Kahrl
Reviewed on: 2005-02-10