Cut Off Your Hands
Consistency: Cut Off Your Hands has it in spades. Their sophomore album Hollow is a homogeneous, pasteurized glass of indie-minded sensibility. Your first sip starts with “You Should Do Better” and smoothly transitions all the way through to the last drop of “Buried.” The bright, jangling strums and arpeggios of guitarist Michael Ramirez contrast the pouting, melancholy lyrics of frontman Nick Johnson. True to the album title, Cut Off Your Hands has crafted a sonic feeling of hollowness, as though their album was recorded in a giant shell, waves deflecting off of distant unseen walls and filling the emptiness with a soft blanket of sound.
While Cut Off Your Hands’ debut album You & I had a much edgier post-punk feel, Hollow sets out to smooth some of those edges. Unfortunately, in the process, the album comes off sounding a bit like the illegitimate child of The Smiths and Guster — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I guess. But in my opinion, Hollow doesn’t do as much as You & I did to set Cut Off Your Hands apart in the not-so-indie-anymore indie music scene.
That complaint aside — and I know it may sound like a harsh one — there are some fantastic, shining moments on this album. “You Should Do Better” and “Down and Out” both feature infectious upbeat rhythms that command your head to bob along accordingly; your body obeys autonomously.
In order to calm the turbulent stomach of “Nausea,” “By Your Side” sighs and sways, assuring us that “I’m by your side, at your call, when you call.” It makes even the most cynical love-hater feel all warm and cozy inside.
I absolutely love the nonchalant inevitability of “Oh Hell.” “Oh hell, oh hell, we’re heading for the Sun,” shrugs Johnson. “It’s too much to stop, we’re heading for the Sun.” This song should be required listening for disaffected youths everywhere. Indeed, this whole album should probably be required listening for disaffected youths everywhere.
Cut Off Your Hands: cutoffyourhands.com