Making Beds in a Burning House
Troubled Hubble is a quirky, post-punk-pop band from suburban Chicago that people have been telling me I need to check out for a long time. Sitting down to give Making Beds in a Burning House a first spin, I’m immediately struck by a more than passing acquaintance with indie rockers like Modest Mouse. While I can see why this would win the band kudos in indie rock circles, I have to admit I’m not quite ready to drink the Kool Aid myself.
Opener “14,000 Things To Be Happy About” is appropriately chipper but also unrelenting and exhausting. Boundless energy can be an admirable quality, but in the hands of lead singer/guitarist Chris Otepka, it can leave you screaming for a respite. He hurtles through a tiresome rapid-fire stream of consciousness rap on “Ear Nose & Throat,” which is sort of the band’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” The Modest Mouse comparison is most apparent on “I’m Pretty Sure I Can See Molecules,” which also has some of the quirky geekiness of They Might Be Giants.
Andrew Lanthrum’s inventive bass parts are showcased on “Floribraska.” The angular, not-too-punky guitars and off-kilter lyrics are neatly in place on “Safe & Sound.” But like a lot of tunes here, it skimps too much on melody to really draw me in. And one wishes these clearly talented musicians were more willing to let the songs breathe, instead of filling every nook and cranny with carefully calculated “indie-r than thou” guitars and wise-ass, too-precious-by-half vocals.
I can attest that Troubled Hubble is a hard-working live act, and this collection of tunes could certainly translate well to the live setting. Still, I’m not convinced these guys have the right combination of hooks and originality to rise above the rest of the pack. Sorry friends, I tried. I really did.