Boys in the Hood
I’d never really heard of Hood before picking up on this album. For me its something of a find. It manages to evoke a particularly English kind of pastoral melancholy without being starkly folksy. On the contrary, as it happens, ‘The Negatives’ pulses with a strangely mutated R&B/Hip hop loop, weaving its sombre lyrics over a complex soundscape that is wholly idiosyncratic despite its IDM leanings. In fact, the production on much of the album is as good as any I’ve heard in the last few years, somehow incorporating the folksy glitch of Mum or Four Tet into heartfelt bedsit pop songs without detracting from the strength of the songwriting. Another close comparison could be The Notwist, or even Junior Boys – both of whose recent albums are also worth investigating. There are moments of grim bleakness here, ‘Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive’ and the near-standstill of ‘Winter 73′, but also pastoral otherwordliness: ‘End of One Train Working’ could be a rural English Animal Collective. Moreover, the three-piece suite of ‘The Lost You’, ‘Still Rain Fell’ and ‘Fading Hills’ must rank among the most innovative and evocative songs of the year, especially the hearbreaking ‘Still Rain Fell’ with its percussive textures that evoke train engines.