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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Track-by-Track: The Hoosiers - The Illusion Of Safety

Most second albums end up as flops. Bands often fear changing up their successful sound and end up with a collection of songs that echo past glories with one quarter of the melody. The Hoosiers' new album eclipses the last by a wide margin. The hooks are tighter, the vocals are better and the energy is amped up a hundred-fold. This is the summer's biggest surprise.

1. Choices - Not the flashiest of the album's tracks, but the perfect single to ease into their new sound. The staccato melody sticks on first listen but doesn't grow tiresome. It's far and away their best single to date. 10/10

2. Bumpy Ride - A galloping synth sugarcube of a song. It's got a giddy pop sound to it with an anthemic chorus that practically forces a smile on your face. 10/10

3. Who Said Anything (About Falling In Love)? - The first of the album's ballads, this has got a stately 80's sheen to it, which compliments Irwin's Tears For Fears-esque vocals. The strings in the chorus give this much needed grandeur. 9/10

4. Unlikely Hero - The most obvious single on the album, this is an enormous pop track with one of the most deliriously catchy choruses I've heard all year. Fist-pumping, sing-along goodness. 10/10

5. Lovers In My Head - A slower, almost Keane-like ballad with a synth vamp to it. Initially underwhelming, the gentle melody gets to you after a few listens. It's one of the prettier tracks, for sure. 9/10

6. Live By The Ocean - A rockier uptempo with emphasis on a piano riff that underpins the verses. The chorus isn't quite as strong as others, but this is still great stuff. 8/10

7. Devil's In The Details - A sparse, more experimental ballad that sounds like a demented music box melody. Halfway through the tempo changes a bit when the hook comes in. It's pretty captivating. Definitely a new sound for them. 10/10

8. Glorious - An overblown, cheesy epic of a pop song, with dance-pop verses and a choral hook that nearly breaks the speakers. It's totally bubblegum, but the best kind. Kicks off a string of excellent uptempos. 10/10

9. Made To Measure - A straightforward pop track that, while lyrically meandering, boasts a watertight melody and a surging sense of drama. 10/10

10. Giddy Up - A dancier, synth-heavy electro number. It's a little reminiscent of something that Scissor Sisters would do, with its pounding glam swagger. One of the strongest choruses, for sure. 10/10

11. Sarajevo - A mature-sounding, winding electronic track that builds as it goes. The background chants are especially effective. There's a slightly exotic sound at work that makes this a late-album standout. 10/10

12. Little Brutes - The most experimental song on the album, it's got an unhinged feel to it, both vocally and lyrically. It's an about-face from the dance-pop of the last few tracks, but it works well because of that. Not a standout, but very interesting. The layered vocals are pretty impressive. 8/10

Album Grade: 9.5/10

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