764-Hero – We’re Solids

4 out of 5

Label: Up Records

Produced by: Phil Ek

I may have criticized 764-Hero’s debut for adopting some affectations to seemingly disguise their simple pop charms, but We’re Solids dips into a generally more aggressive sound for the band – I mean, check out the hardcore punk riffage of opener Comb the Carpet – and I’m all for it. It maybe works because Phil Ek’s production coats the whole thing in a sort of rawness that vibes with the approach; maybe it’s because it’s an EP and so it doesn’t tire; maybe it’s just because the songs feel tailored for this style, and not 764-Hero + shouting. I mean, I’m Lying might as well be a Hush Harbor track.

At the same time, the group is making strides forward: Dragon has the denseness of a Weekends of Sound song, and Check the Address even looks way ahead to Nobody Knows‘ playfulness. And though closer Stutter Steps hits on the “closing acoustic track” thing again from Salt Sinks, it’s a much more complete song, not a code, and the way it brings in some ambience (via Steven Nereo’s “noise”) is, again, suggestive of later Atkins projects like Magic Magicians.

The tradeoff is that the lyrics here don’t feel quite as strong as usual. It could be a result of my brain forefronting the more aggressive nature of the tunes, and giving less credence to the words, but they just sound slightly less insightful than John’s usual work.

Anyhow, yes, while We’re Solids may start off with a song that sounds like no other 764-Hero track, to the extent that you might be checking if it’s the same group, it’s also interestingly one of their most varied releases, looking back and forward in the group’s catalogue with its various stylistic flourishes.