Monday, May 12, 2008

The Hoosiers - The Trick To Life - 2007


Fans of the Feeling's bright, playful, and undeniably British songcraft will get a similar buzz from the Hoosiers, who mine the same crop of influences (ELO, Supertramp, and other vintage pop/rock groups) but deliver a frantic performance reminiscent of the Kooks and Hot Hot Heat. The Trick to Life is strongest when the band works to meld both those styles — luminous power pop and nocturnal indie rock — into such U.K. chart-toppers as "Worried About Ray" and "Goodbye Mr. A." Choral harmonies, organs, and angular guitars combine on the latter song, which dissolves into a psychedelic freak-out after four minutes of candy-coated hooks. "Worst Case Scenario" follows a similar pattern; Irwin Sparkes' guitar cuts choppy patterns throughout the verse, but the chorus brings nothing but bounce and summery sparkle, with Sparkes' bandmates echoing their frontman's voice in sweet bursts of harmony. Elsewhere, the Hoosiers fly their oddball flag high on tracks like "The Trick to Life" and "Run Rabbit Run," two songs whose quirky grandeur recalls the experimental work of post-Neon Ballroom Silverchair. In fact, Sparkes shares a number of similarities with Silverchair's Daniel Johns, from his extended falsetto range to his vocal theatrics (which run the gamut from cooing sighs to dramatic, rock opera stylings). So while it might be easy to write off the Hoosiers as a cheeky clan of Jeff Lynne wannabes, the second half of The Trick to Life shows a diversity that's missing from the band's hit singles. Only when the Hoosiers ride a poppy riff into the ground or attempt to emulate Muse (as they do during "Killer") does this debut suffer, but those mistakes are few and far between. -AMG

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