• Fri, Oct 23, 2020
Reviews

Hoirong Traps Lightning In A Bottle

9.0

album Reviews Aug 21, 04:37pm

The band’s stellar new album ‘Hope And Light’ is every bit as exciting, hard-hitting and weird as anything you’ll hear all year

Indian band Hoirong has been at it for no small amount of time; they have been super prolific with releasing music for maybe seven years now. In that time they have jumped between a bunch of genres, from rock to post-punk to a twisted take on pop to a bit of noise rock. Obviously they are not scared or stuck-up about changing sounds and taking risks, but what’s different about their new album ‘Hope And Light’ is the level of quality they achieve with their decisions. While there are some flights of fancy, nothing about this album sounds anything less than confident and honed.

It isn’t unremarkable that the rock-punk-post-punk sound is still quite fresh in 2020; it isn’t as ubiquitous as it was in decades past. That being said, what really makes the album fly is its raw but punchy mix. The guitars are throaty and change from noise and chaos to the catchy tones of a rock song’s chorus seemingly on a dime. The bass and drums are equally remarkable with their super tight and aggressive approach, though the band pushes them either to the front or the back of the mix at various point on the twelve tracks here. Additional instrumentation, for the most part, is limited to some electronic drums and a little synth bass here and there, but they aren’t used for variation as much as to insert elements of industrial rock. Even then, they are usually teamed up with vibrant guitars and vocals for a bit of nice contrast. What all this gives ‘Hope And Light’ is a series of songs that don’t miss.

 

 

There are forty two minutes of music here but there are pretty much zero skips. Every song imparts its own flavour to the whole while staying in the same songwriting and sonic space; it is satisfying enough that listening to the album as a whole is by miles the best way to experience it. From the soaring intro of the opening song ‘Silence’, you are hooked. There is a percussive quality to the guitars and the groove is brimming with energy. The song goes from there to a more traditional and catchy rock sound on the chorus, but the contrast between the two moods is what makes the song. There are great riffs to be found in pretty much every second of every song here, so it’s hard to pick anything that stands out when there is such consistent quality. ‘Lemonade’ is one of the album’s darker and more brooding forays into industrial rock, and the almost jarring completely clipped sample that pops up in the middle of the song provides a short but abrasive break. ‘Hope’ and ‘So Divine’ have a combination of incredibly emotive guitars, indie sensibilities and surprisingly catchy choruses that are rudely interrupted by angular and dissonant riffs. This contrast is heavily exploited on the album and make sure there isn’t a dull moment to be found. ‘So Divine’ adds some no-wave and late 70s post-punk vocals to a static, electronic drum loop; it’s one of the album’s many highlights. However, the real high point here is ‘Disco Dance Party’, which sounds like And So I Watch You From Afar, 2000s indie rock, 2010s post rock and some tabla loops had a baby. Everything is on point here, from the quiet vocals to the quick stylistic shifts to the explosion that is the song’s first half. It condenses everything Hoirong tries to do into one dense track. The album shifts into a slightly more experimental and off-kilter place for the remainder of ‘Hope And Light’ with songs like ‘Still Life Portrait Painting’ and ‘Boochie’; some drum n’ bass starts to enter the picture and tempos go from comfortable to furious. The riffs are also a bit more raw and loose, and when the vocals come in, they are extremely dry and catch you off guard. ‘Gatara Patara’ is the clearest nod to indie rock here with its sunny chords and sweet leads, even though the sounds used are anything but. ‘Boochie’ sounds like a demented nod to tapang songs and ‘Best Friends Forever’ teams up the most old-school chorus here with dark verses and wailing guitars that on the verge of feeding. The lyrical content of the album ranges from dark humour to rage to a bit of general social commentary and everything in between, but the real punch of the overall product is that there is absolutely no time to breathe or reflect until the album’s closer ‘Light’, a warm, clean and ambient instrumental which is the only example of the band not being directly in your face. That being said, its sudden-ness is the perfect way to end the album.

‘Hope And Light’ is definitely not an easy listen. Anyone that isn’t comfortable with loudness and a slightly uncomfortable energy is going to be punched in the face for forty minutes. The tones are so noisy, warped and sometimes downright off-putting that the sudden shifts to sugary sweet are sometimes as odd as what precedes them. But something about the album makes it all seem deliberate. It’s not supposed to be easy and fun and comfortable. Hoirong wants you to cringe, smile, like and dislike parts in equal measure. But the fact that the album shines while doing all that and having some standout moments and having riffage and having a range of grooves and so on… it’s really hard to make something that covers so much ground while sounding great, and that is what makes this album a real artistic statement.

Listen to ‘Hope And Light’ here.

 

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