It Hugs Back is a quartet from England that boasts it was influenced by the songwriting of Wilco, the sound layers of My Bloody Valentine, the pop charm of The Lemonheads and the textures of Sonic Youth. But after listening closely many times to Inside Your Guitar, you’re more likely to hear the hypnotically, droning fuzz-rock of Yo La Tengo, the slow-burning shoegaze of American Analog Set and the melancholic dream-pop of Earlimart. And if all that name-calling doesn’t get you interested, well, it should, because they’re all valid comparisons. If you don’t believe me I’ll tell you again.
It Hugs Back weave delicately layered guitars, soothing organ drones and gurgling sound effects over a subtly shifting backdrop of hypnotic and meditative indie-rock. The warm and wispy guitar tones could be mistaken for a softer, more subdued Death Cab for Cutie, without the heartache, while the songs often swell into an enthusiastic wall of sound that sparkles as it rocks out, without ever losing control, and with an intelligent charm that conjures thoughts of what Grandaddy might sound like if they were on Valium.
Opener “q” entices the listener with a warm and buzzy build-up that sets the tone for the more upbeat and catchy, and obviously earmarked singles track “work day”. But after “don’t know”’s almost danceable beats and clever organ hook, the band downshift a bit to explore a more ambient, drone-driven sound that allows them a chance to experiment with merging electronic sound effects and feedback loops with guitar-based pop. The experiment is often splendidly successful as “back down” and “now + again” burst from a dreamily buzzing haze into a blissful wall of textured guitars with whirling sound effects and catchy beats.
The hushed vocals are smoothly integrated and never outshine the music. In fact the singing is sometimes so unobtrusive that it appears it’s purpose is to remind the listener that they are hearing not only warm and fuzzy indie-rock, but also a pop song.
Yes, there are a couple tracks where the song structures fall short and the reflective atmospherics aren’t quite fully developed. But these are merely bumps in the road that can be expected from a young band that are trying to find their niche. Don’t relegate Inside Your Guitar to personal music players such as your PC or mp3 player. Make sure you give it a couple of attentive spins on the big stereo in order to fully enjoy it’s resonant beauty.
Recommended If You Like (RIYL): American Analog Set, Yo La Tengo, Earlimart
Recommended Tracks: “back down”, “now + again” and “work day”
It Hugs Back: http://www.ithugsback.co.uk