The Real Hooks – “Damn You”

The Real Hooks – “Damn You”

Pensacola’s own The Real Hooks are a family-act in an age when such formations seem like relics of a bygone era. They make it work through a combination of upbeat lyrical content, more than a healthy dose of humor, and undeniable musicality. All of those talents are readily on display in their newest single “Damn You” and it reaffirms the sense of possibility and wonder that we’ve heard from these musicians since their 2009 formation. Co-written with hit songwriter Mark Spiro, a talent whose work has graced releases from Cheap Trick to Anne Murray, the band has turned in their finest and most unified performance yet with a tune whose immediate melodic bounce and brightly lit vocals are memorable and inviting from the first.

There’s a neat, understated jangle to their music harkening back, in some respects, to power-pop acts of the nineties and early part of this century, but there’s a strong sense of personal identity coming through in their artful use of harmonies in “Damn You” and their humorous turns are distinctive without ever seeming to rely on motifs and lines we might hear from a gaggle of other songwriters and bands. The instrumentation, as well, is handled with a deft touch. The drumming has urgency and feel, but the production balances it with the rest of the musicians and there’s a sure touch to it that plays along with the band rather than attempting to dominate the performance. The lyrics shouldn’t be confused for high poetry, but kudos to the songwriters in the family and their astute choice of Mark Spiro as a collaborator for this jaunty number. There’s a deceptively simple thrust to this song that has substance yet effervescence not easy to achieve.

The humor has the same deceptive simplicity. It isn’t easy to make this sort of stuff come off so fluid and that’s why the twists, turns, and sly winking from the track’s vocals sound so impressive. It all sounds so natural and unforced – like the music is practically leaping out of them and bounding to the center of the stage. It has authenticity too. When they cleverly invoke certain turns of language for comic effect, you never have the sense that they are pandering for the audience’s favor. Instead, you are convinced from the outset that The Real Hooks are performing music they genuinely like and brighten it further with the white hot burn of their personalities poured into their playing. This is an invigorating number that wins you over from the first without ever making you grit your teeth and runs just the right length. The Real Hooks have traveled far since their 2013 debut and their next steps, beginning with songs like this, are sure to carry them into an even brighter tomorrow.