words by ross jones
The video for ‘Petal’, the first track shared from Hovvdy’s new album Cranberry, is a beautifully etched out insight into the band’s lives and the people that inhabit it. As they travel – may it be stretched out in the back of a pick up or on what looks like the most liberating cycle ride – from one suburban home to another, they capture the slowly ageing nature of life as they exist within it. Whether it be the fading, worn away paint of wooden fencing, or the leaves of the overarching trees, aching with rich reds and tanned yellows, a finely-drawn melancholy slowly weaves its way into its moral, the passing of time almost a blur as you try and recollect what has past. This notion comes to embody Hovvdy’s music as a whole, their leisurely effervescent songs tender with mournful regret, yet doing so with a sense of convalescence, almost as if in an unnoticeable cycle. With their second record Cranberry, they are able to succinctly elicit this sentiment into an impactful record of circumstance.
The subtle development they have made since their first record, Taster, is immediately evident in Cranberry’s clarity. Blossoming from timid, humming structures filled with mechanic distortion, the band tear off those layers for something more instinctive, as if having thawed and reacting with salient emotion. The title track murmurs within a strummed, unrestrained acoustic guitar, Will Taylor and Charlie Martin harmonising with high-pitched delicacy, evoking the pensive complexion of their lyricism. “Could not recall where you began again, and I hate it, I’ma change for you and you deserve it”. It’s not consequence that their vocals are more central and accessible, their ability to intertwine frank admissions with disorientated constructs flourish within the minimal instrumentation.
Whats actually impressive though is that the record wears the residual bruises of their previous work, and the middle section in particular displays such aspects. ‘Late’, while still resonant with a deep warble at its heart, thrives for having a resounding melody – while losing none of their stark ambience. Alongside it is ‘Thru’, a previously aired track thats enveloped with aforementioned spectral synths. It unusually mellows the piece, especially in contrast to its live intonation which is perhaps the most dissonant the group have sounded. All together, it’s a pleasingly gradual evolution in maturity, and once again allows the group to express their more lucid lyricism.
Hovvdy explore a fine line between frankness and secrecy, bearing sentiment and aching lament before wrapping it in murmurs and intricacies. “I want to move with the simpler things about you and me, we can go with that, or we don’t have to.” What makes it so astute is the nature of how the mind works in the context of such feelings. We are rushed, forthright, anxious and impulsive, and while trying to express such feelings its very possible we’re not entirely sure what we want ourselves. Taylor and Martin are so perceptive in channeling such frustrations, doing so with such calm conveyance it hints at a pensive state yet ensures there is always an intimation of hope. “Waiting up late to call, you say it’s alright, that I cannot be that guy, sometimes hard.” They place together varying thoughts as if they are scribbled hastily, and it captures the heat of moments, whether painstaking or exciting, sombre or romantic. It makes for concise and minimal listening, and when married with the ambience of their music it’s truly heartwarming and natural.
Cranberry, on first listen, may seem like a peaceful accompaniment to the emergence of a beautiful dusk evening, one you never wish to end. But with further listening it comes to embody the moments that happen more frequently, and happen to impact on us with much more severity. Return to the video of ‘Petal’, for instance, and take a deep consideration of the sights that pass. Take stock of your life as it flies by and you may well find that the smaller things seem much more important.
‘Cranberry’ is released on February 9th, via Double Double Whammy
Pre-order here: https://goo.gl/oAXdch
2/9 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda *
2/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right *
2/23 – New Orleans, LA @ Saturn Bar
2/24 – Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s
2/25 – Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
2/28 – Nashville, TN @ Cobra
3/1 – Jackson, MS @ Spacecamp
3/2 – Dallas, TX @ Good Records
3/3 – San Antonio, TX @ Lowcountry
* Cranberry Record Release Shows