England - Full Moon 104 - 03/25/05
I'm English, I live in Australia, and most of the music I listen to is American. Where do I turn when I want to make contact with England again? I've listened to The Beatles and Nick Drake to death, so it's great to be introduced to a band like Hood.
Hood are quintessentially English. They sing with English accents and I applaud them for it. They've been ploughing a lonely, unrecognised furrow of lo-fi, introspective, experimental indie pop for over ten years now, and I've never really paid any attention. When Cold House was released a few years ago I read some glowing reviews, but it never made its way onto my CD shopping list.
So, it was a beautiful surprise to hear "Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive" from Outside Closer on a Wire cover CD. Without being introduced to this amazing song I doubt I'd own this album. It's easily one of the most outstanding pieces of music I've heard in months, and thankfully the rest of the album is just as engaging, if not as transcendent.
The structure of most tracks on Outside Closer is relatively simple: introduce awkward loop; add spine-tingling acoustic guitar patterns; intone sad, sad poetry; repeat for six minutes and stir in mournful strings and other embellishments. In some cases the results are stunning; in others, like "The Negatives", the self-consciously studied nature of the delivery can be cloying.
Almost apologetic in its tone, most of the music barely registers on the first few listens. It's more of an autumnal atmosphere. It welcomes you but doesn't demand attention. Listen repeatedly, picture grey skies and open fires, and rest in the solace of friends and family. Let the repetition lull you into a gorgeous melancholy. Pull that Hood up over your ears and block out the rest of the world for 45 minutes - you won't regret it.
Copyright © 2005 Tim Clarke