Review: Hypoluxo - "Taste Buds"

Hypoluxo - Taste Buds
(2017 Broken Circles)

Every time I've played Hypoluxo's Taste Buds on the aux cord, I've received the same reaction from my fellow passengers:

"Is that Beach Fossils? No, wait; that guy sounds like the dude from The National! Or Ian Curtis..."

Their confusion's warranted. It's not often you'll hear post-punk's signature monotone/baritone vocal delivery paired with shimmering, melodic guitars that sound this radiant, brushing up against surf-rock beats. The contrast between frontman Samuel Cogen and his backing band is stark, but it's one that pays off. Each of the four songs that make up the Brooklyn quartet's sophomore EP is its own emotional alloy, plucking sonic inspiration from the feelings that tangle in your head as you perform rote tasks like taking out the trash or showering. The songs don't descend from intense, unshakable events. They're comfy, but full of mystery.

It's more organic that way. Though Cogen's lyricism fluctuates from slight surreality to the familiar backdrop of everyday life, he remains firmly rooted within the sphere of real, human thought sans embellishment. Track 1, "Sometimes", doesn't mince words (or orchestration for that matter). The band rattles off extremely hummable guitar riffs, glistening with reverb and twang, as Cogen drips off-the-cuff sentiment into the mic: "Sometimes I get nervous / I get nervous when you yell at me / You can be so scary get so angry / At the things that I don't see."

Following the final verse, the song's bony fingers of melody unclench, opening the track up to no-wave improvisation. A thread of white noise knots through knucklebones as dissonant harmonics wriggle free. Cogen mumbles fairly decipherable syllables into the brew, as if reciting some evil incantation. 

The following song, "Cowboy Poet" is, as its title suggests, Taste Buds' most flowery offering. Conflating the anonymity of city life with the old west's gritty individualism, the band strikes up an equine gallop that morphs into a mechanical chug. Guitars sizzle beneath synthesized lens flares. Vocals soar over gloomy basslines. Closer "Dog Park" is my pick of the bunch, dropping droning chords over a four-on-the-floor thump. It's a breezy, free-associative piece that expands from its titular canines to memories of Cogen's mom's house. The song is aimless in the best way: as ambling as life itself. 

At 14 minutes, Taste Buds is a charming diversion that packs some memorable hooks and thought-provoking poetic license. It's a very replayable effort, and one that's timbrally unique enough to pop into your head from time to time. Even though the record's just a few months old, it already feels like a trusted friend.