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It Hugs Back - Laughing Party

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 3 / 5 / 2012



It Hugs Back - Laughing Party
Label: Safe and Sound Records
Format: CD

intro

Ambitious and highly impressive debut album from Kent-based 90's-influenced alternative rockers, It Hugs Back


It Hugs Back come loaded with impressive credentials; signed to the connoisseur’s label of choice 4AD and with their guitarist Matthew Simms having spent much of the last year touring with the legendary Wire. But, instead of using these little advantages to rest on their laurels and lazily churn out generic indie rock, they have instead produced the laudibly ambitious ‘Laughing Party’. Opening track, ‘The Big E’, sets the stall out – a fifteen minute workout of buzzing guitars, layered over riffs and echoed effects. They’ve clearly been taking notes at the Yo La Tengo school of rock, and, like the legendary New Yorkers, they know how to make a very long song work – establish a groove, but keep the melodies fluid. Luckily, they’ve also learned another lesson from Yo La Tengo – for every fifteen minute guitar freakout, it helps to have at least one sunkissed pop gem up your sleeve as well. And ‘Laughing Party’ has plenty. While there’s nothing here so itchingly catchy as their 2009 single ‘Work Day’, the likes of ‘Half American’ and ‘Happy’ will sit comfortably on the 6Music playlist, with the former a shimmering Smashing Pumpkins-style rock anthem, and the latter a blissful blend of Americana and krautrock. Elsewhere, there are echoes of My Bloody Valentine, Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev; the lazy strum of vintage Lemonheads, the bleepety-bleeps of Stereolab and the reckless experimentalism of Wilco. So, yes, they’ve absorbed the best of the mid-to-late 90s alternative music scene, but it's hard to fault good taste – and by having such good, broad taste, It Hugs Back never sound derivative. One minute, they are playing blissful folk, and the next they’ve slipped into trip-hop. If, at well over sixty minutes, there is a little too much to absorb in a single sitting, that is compensated by the range of sounds. There’s plenty of reason to listen over and over again. I, however, can’t help but raise two small problems. Firstly, It Hugs Back come from Kent, a county seemingly allergic to producing successful rock bands. Secondly, the two bands they most remind me of are Lorna and the Clientele – two exceptional bands more than deserving of international success, and yet whose fanbases are so small, they barely even merit being called a cult. And yet, with a record this good, perhaps the aforementioned indie-cred credentials might just be enough.



Track Listing:-
1 The Big E
2 No One Should Know
3 Massachusetts
4 Half American
5 Grown Old
6 Sit Tight
7 Strange Noise
8 Happy
9 Times Square
10 Melting
11 Never Get Tired
12 All In One Day


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/ithugsback
http://www.ithugsback.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/ithugsback


Label Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safe-Sound-Records/154793894632738
http://www.safeandsoundrecords.co.uk/



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interviews


Interview (2012)
It Hugs Back - Interview
John Clarkson speaks to Matthew Simms, the front man with Maidstone-based indie rock band It Hugs Back, about his dual career as a touring guitarist with Wire and ‘Laughing Party’, his band’s recently released second album
Interview (2012)


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Slow Wave (2015)
Otherworldly Englsh post rock act It Hugs Back mine a well spring of glittering indie rock on their third album
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