Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Listen: The Hoosiers, The Illusion of Safety

Oy. What happened here?

The Hoosiers were one of my favorite new British bands. Two years ago they released The Trick to Life, an endlessly melodic tour-de-force that cribbed from the Turtles and ELO, but spun them into something fun and new. I loved big, bold singles "Worried About Ray" and "Goodbye Mr. A," but the heart of the record was in its more subtle pieces, like "Everything Goes Dark." And Irwin Sparkes has a really good voice.

So why now have the same three musicians turned out something so... lame? The Illusion of Safety finds the Hoosiers going synth-pop, but forgetting to write good songs. Or perhaps consciously writing bad ones, to play up the '80s angle. I don't know, but either way, tracks like "Bumpy Ride" and "Who Said Anything (About Falling in Love)" are awful.

I don't hate the synth-y direction. The first song (and first single), "Choices," is dynamite, and later tracks like "Made to Measure" work just fine. I also quite like "Devil's in the Detail," performed on what sounds like a prepared piano. But the preponderance of the record is uninspired and uninspiring, and the plastic tones that fill things out don't do these songs any favors. This is the most disappointing crash-and-burn I've heard in a while. The fact that it hasn't been released in the U.S. will make it that much easier to avoid, for which you should be grateful.

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