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It Hugs Back – Recommended Record album review

Recommended Record is surprisingly upbeat for the genre. Its rare to see a psychedelic infused act take this approach to more experimental sounds. This 2013 release is It Hugs Back third album, starting with Inside Your Guitar and followed up by Laughing Party, Recommended Record makes it the UK based psychedelic rock band’s third album. It covers a wide array of colors and stands out from merely not being depressing, let alone inventive and refined.

Sometimes these experimental passages build a false sense of progression to have it fall out from underneath you when the song doesn’t climax as you thought it would. Instead, it lulls you back into the dubbed out coma it spat you out of. Waiting room feels exceedingly like the output of a jam band and hints at the bands classic rock influences. Then they reel back into a dusty country rock song called Skateboard Rhythm, except skateboarding is probably the last thing the song inspires one to do. The title track, recommended records, dials in a driving beat and square cut rhythms contrasting the slow groovy nature of most of the album.

The genre label the band has tagged on to each of their tracks on soundcloud is dubbed “Cosmic” and it couldn’t be more apt. The swooshing wishy-washy bleepy-bloppy sounds of the opening track “Sa Sa Sa Sails” will carry your head into a distant galaxy. Perhaps to a planet where no one wears shoes and plaid shirts never go out of style.

It Hugs Back gets a bit grungy at times. No self constraining brand of thought was behind the copious amounts of fuzzy distortion, and there are times where the early grunge and other punk influences break through the otherwise jam band ethos elsewhere on the album. Even in those moments, however, a sense of legacy is felt, like they are trying to do their idols justice. As for their idols, I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys listed to a lot of MC5 for at least one phase in their life.

Overall Recommended Record is worth recommending even if the album title wasn’t already hypnotizing me into using its namesake as a cheap, but effective, conclusion to a positive review. Though it dips in spots there is enough here to satisfy a variety of rock fans, but now I’m curious in what direction they will decide to hone their style, if at all. The amount of which you like their next piece of work could depend on how they reconcile these opposing styles, either into a fusion of them all, or continuing to expand in all directions which could perhaps be to their detriment.

By Keith Roberts

Keith is a writer, guitarist, and hobby producer out of the Greater Boston area.

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