January 15, 2005

Hood "Outside Closer"

Hood’s really done it this time. For many moons, this little lo-fi band has hinted at greatness, and in the past few years, they’ve driven very, very far away from those lo-fi roots, heading into a weird atmospheric folk/electronica meld that doesn’t sound a thing like their earlier days. They’ve put out some really great records in the past few years, and their previous album, Cold House, showed the band poised for something bigger and grander—something electronica-based, something cold and detached.

So what does Hood do next? They don’t go all out on the electronica bender that their past records threatened, nor do they regress into their lo-fi weirdness, either. Instead, they decided to spend a bit more time working on their material and in so doing have produced a record that’s beautiful, gorgeous and inherently different than their previous releases—all the while making it seem as if they’ve not changed at all! Okay, so they’ve changed a little bit, but it seems each new Hood release makes you forget about the one before it, so you might not even notice the differences unless you looked for them.

One thing is obvious, though: Outside Closer is a more natural sounding record for Hood—the ambience is tempered with warmth not usually heard with such atmospheric music. It comes in subtle ways, really—for instance, how can you not think of a sunny springtime morning when you hear the closing moments of “Winter 72?” How can you not think of a warm summer Saturday when you hear the beat-riddled “The Lost You”? And what should you make of the poppy moments of “Closure?” Doesn’t that remind you of a late-night adventure with a member of the opposite sex?

True, certain things do remain—Chris and Richard Adams still sing with a haunted, depressed tone that barely rises above a whisper. They’re also still an unhappy lot; in “Closure” they sing “sorry won’t make you stay/sorry won’t kiss your face” in such a pained manner, it would make Morrissey envious. And, thankfully, there’s still a commitment to trying to make the music more interesting and immediate, even if it’s quite obvious that they’ve spent a bit of time polishing up their songs.

They also retain their habit of making you think this is the last record they release—after all, they did release a song called “Hood Is Finished” several years ago. This time around, the imagery of finality is enough to make you wonder if it is indeed their final farewell: from the title of the record Outside Closer to the song titles “This Is It, Forever,” “End of One Train Working” and “Closure,” conspiracy theorists would have much to work with here. (Thankfully, their record label has stated that this is NOT the end of the road for Hood.)

Hood = brilliant. That’s about the only thing that’s been consistent throughout their career. Outside Closer is yet another rewarding departure for these fellows, and as I’ve said in other Hood reviews—I can’t wait to hear what they do next!

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.hoodmusic.net
Label Website: http://www.dominorecordco.com

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