by Simon Reynolds
Hood make mope-rock for the laptop era.
This English quartet are survivors from a brief early Nineties moment of mingling between
indie dreampop and techno.
Reared on the guitarhaze of A.R. Kane and My Bloody Valentine, these groups
had their heads flipped around by
Aphex Twin. While some of these
outfits, like Seefeel, gradually went all the way into abstract
electronix, others, like
legends-to-a-few Disco Inferno, remained attached to the song and the
voice. Updating this
indie-meets-electronica formula, Hood offering glitch with a human face, their
sound poised somewhere between the jackfrost fragility of UK janglers The Chills and
the faded-photo poignancy of Boards of
Canada. Crunchy filtered beats jostle with bright acoustic guitar, crestfallen
analog synths waver alongside mournful horns. New Zealand
But just as you've got Cold House pegged as a way-underground cousin to Kid A and Vespertine, another element comes in from far left-field: hip hop. Abstrakt-to-the-max rhymes from Dose One and Why? of Bay Area crew cLOUDDEAD feature on three tracks, ranging from surreal lines like "sometimes the sunset doesn't want to be photographed" to stuff that's more like a braid-of-breath than actual decipherable words.
As Cold House's title suggests, the dominant mood is desolate (Hood come from
Leeds in the
infamously bleak North of England) . On
"The Winter Hit Hard" gale-force winds of dubbed-out drumming buffet
a frail sapling of a vocal melody, and the entire album teems with images like "there's coldness in this
sky" or "your cold hand in mine".
This heat-dearth is as much a matter of internal affect as climate, though. The singer's fallible voice recalls too-sensitive-for-this-world folk minstrel Nick Drake, and the lyrics manage to stay just the right side of "precious" as they flick through snapshots from what seems to be the drawn-out death throes of a relationship. Pained insights flash by concerning regret, the oppressive weight of the past, dreams "snatched from your grasp," and the way the world seems dead, stripped of all enchantment, after the love had gone.
For Hood, life's a glitch, and then you cry.