Hell on Wheels
The Odd Church
Not nearly as fiery or satanic as their name would indicate, Hell on Wheels are another notch on Sweden’s ever-lengthening belt of high-quality introspective, neurotic pop.
The album begins with “Heard You on the Radio,” a restrained Phil Spector-esque number with a simple guitar melody and bass line, cavernous drums and copious amounts of tambourine. The boy/girl vocal interplay between Rickard Lindgren and Asa Sohlgren comes across like the missing link between Low’s frosty emotional austerity of their early work and the Californian bend of their latest release. A distinctly garage sound manifests itself beginning on “Perversion” and dominates most the remaining ten tracks on the disc. Far from churning out a rote power-chord structure, the riffs burn with car-exhaust fumes, but the arrangements are still kept uncluttered and the melodies are far more pop than punk. The excellent “Alexandr” builds intensity in the verses before experiencing its physical release via a delicate piano line in its closing minute. Playing against type in a different direction, the sprawling almost-shoegazer “Handing Over Your Heart” heaps layers of guitar effects at its most poignant, emotionally naked moments. In fact, most every song on The Odd Church achieves a sort musical nirvana at least once: the wordless choir that closes “At Least You Still Pretend You Care,” the perfect dissonant chord that punctuates the chorus and the howling saw solo at the end of “Stealing Notes From the Devils Notebook” are among the many idiosyncrasies giving this album character to spare and very little competition to worry about.
Hybris Records: www.hybrism.com