Charlie Martin and Will Taylor met somewhere towards the end of 2014. The two exchanged ideas and notes in the form of iPhone memos, which eventually matured into Hovvdy’s simply titled debut, ep. Multi-instrumentalists themselves, both Taylor and Martin are involved as drummers in other local Austin, TX projects. Their debut LP Taster (via Sports Day Records and Merdurhaus Records) is a concise record that lugs around a hull of emotions.
The record’s intense and desolate opener, “Better”, is a marsh of trammeled emotions, suffocated by uncertainty and spite (“you could not stick around / I was looking for a better reason not to call you back”). One of the record’s highlights, “Problem” runs with swashes of thick shimmery reverb and languid vocals, which eventually makes way for proliferating guitars and pluming drone. An earlier iteration of the song appeared on ep along with “In My Head”, which parallels in its instrumental moodiness, as Taylor vaguely details a crumbling love triangle with feelings of resignation and reserved optimism. The twangy “Meg” fritters with pillowy and supple guitars as Taylor sings of relationship dynamics that can’t be traced to the future or past. Despite the absence of hooks or refrains, the track’s frenetic sprawls and pastel melodies will surely be nestled in your ears for a while.
Reintroducing the darker shades from the top of the record, “Try Hard” recalls the failed attempts at connecting with a significant other’s father with nocturnally frizzy synths and icy metronome. Festering with lurking snares and gawking electronics, “Note” builds but never climaxes the into the cacophonous flourish it was teasing to be. The record’s most jarring track “Can’t Wait” is a hushed calamity, switching between strident guitars and the folk-ish guitars, channeling the Pixies and Sonic Youth. For much of the despondence and heartache the record is veiled in, “Can’t Wait” is one of its brightest spots, expressing hope and getting past the constraints of long distance relationships (“I just can’t wait until you’re mine / you have been running around in my mind”). In a way, “Left Out” brings the record to a full circle, swelling with the toiling melancholy that rung in the record, a pseudo heartbeat that slips into the dark.
Being able to enshrine every bit of their hurt and regret in 25 minutes, Taster is intimate, cohesive, depressing, and above all, a beautiful record that’s a required listen for the next five years.
Cereal Pairing: Krave S’Mores