Album Review: It Hugs Back

Inside Your Guitar

Facts about this album:

* It Hugs Back are Matthew (guitar/vocals), Jack (organ/singing), Paul (bass) and Dimitri (drums).

* ‘Inside Your Guitar’ is their debut album.

Album review:

You’re looking at that name, aren’t you? You’re looking at it and you’re thinking: ‘Only a gang of sad-faced sock-puppets knitted by Stuart Murdoch on a rainy Thursday afternoon would call their band that’. And you may even be right. But a couple of listens into this remarkable debut album, and you realise that it couldn’t have been made by a band called anything else. For this is a record that wraps itself around you like a kohl-eyed Winona Ryder in an early-’90s slacker movie and doesn’t let go for a solid, dream-like 40 minutes.

From the first woozy, tentative notes of opener ‘Q’, you find yourself drawn into the Kent quartet’s shoegazey world of shredded Converse and subtle melodies that reveal themselves gradually. But while the word ‘shoegazer’ instantly conjures images of lethargy and over-reliance on guitar pedals, there are some wonderfully upbeat moments on here, like the Wilco-esque ‘Unaware’ or the endearingly timid power-pop of ‘Back Down’.

Indeed, subsequent visits reveal ‘Inside Your Guitar’ to be more eclectic than your first listen might give it credit for; the gentle lisp of ‘Work Day’ belies a predeliction for Belle & Sebastian-style folk-rock, and aside from the six-minute funereal stretch of closer ‘Rehearsal’, there’s no regression to the too-familiar quiet-loud-quiet dynamic, the band instead leaving the songs short, snappy and mercifully harmless to your hearing.

So, where does this album fit in 2009’s musical landscape? Between

the cracks, most likely. But then, that’s where Animal Collective eventually flowered from. And we suspect in the meantime, there’ll be at least a few open arms for this lot to throw themselves into.

Barry Nicolson


More on this artist:
It Hugs Back NME Artist Page
It Hugs Back MySpace