Wednesday, May 02, 2007

We All Have Hooks For Hands - The Pretender

We All Have Hooks For Hands
The Pretender (Afternoon, 2007)
Grade: A

Download: We All Have Hooks For Hands - "The Man Trying To Outfox Us All"

Disclaimer: Someone on this blog has financial interest in the success of this band. This person has paid me off in cocaine, hookers and swimming pools filled with coin to say they're awesome. Just kidding. While someone on this blog actually does have an interest in them, this is my honest opinion, and my words have been neither bought nor paid for.

So, I had been walking around with a Neutral Milk Hotel-shaped hole in my heart for a long time. But We All Have Hooks For Hands changed all that. The Pretender, Hooks For Hands' debut album hit shelves on April 17th, and I've listened to it a solid fifteen times since buying it last week.

We All Have Hooks For Hands, a nine-piece hailing from the great state of South Dakota, writes fun, psychedelic pop songs that have the exact kind of power and mayhem you'd expect from a band that size.

I always find it hard to describe a band like Hooks because they really are so extraordinary and diverse that words can't really do them justice without being too narrow or too vague. Hooks has all the freak-folk earnestness of Neutral Milk Hotel, especially singer Eli Show. Show has a manic, wailing voice that grips your attention right off the bat. It's good in the same way that Jeff Mangum's voice is good: It constantly startles you into listening to every last word on the album.

Musically, Hooks takes everything that is good about Broken Social Scene and Modest Mouse and adds even more mayhem. "Jumpin' Jean-Luc" and "The Teeth That Feeds The Lions" sway drunkenly under the weight of their own instrumentals. That sounds like a bad thing, but it's actually exactly what this album needs. The result of having so many guys in a band playing so many different parts is an album that is constantly pulling and pushing in unified but varying directions, creating this wonderful psychedelic confusion.

At other times, Hooks plays some rally sweet, '60s inspired pop. "Oh I'd Expect" is the prefect song for the perfect weather those of us in Minnesota are currently experiencing. And that kind of highlights what I just love about this album: It's diverse without being disjointed and it's poppy without feeling artificial. The Pretender is a remarkably fun album that harkens back to its influences while still forging ahead creatively.

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(April Wright)

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