Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
We know what you’re thinking: “Oh great, another oversized Toronto chamber pop band that spews effervescent, chipper-as-fuck ditties.” Well, rest assured: you’re absolutely right. Yup, Hooded Fang are one of those bands; a self-described collective of “friends, roommates, and lovers” who craft songs in each others’ bedrooms, employ cheerful boy/girl melodies, look deliriously happy in their promo pics and reference a children’s book in their moniker. But while there’s a substantial quotient of twee in their independently released debut LP, Hooded Fang Album, it’s a well-honed type of twee that doesn’t make you want to take an Uzi to their faces.
Sticking with the same modus operandi that put 2008’s Hooded Fang EP on the map, the septet’s new long-spinner steers clear of pompous, congested orchestrations for a sound that’s concise, effortless, and endearing. Though “Laughing” (streaming to the right), a hyper-sentimental duet between Daniel Lee and Lorna Wright, is heavy on the horns, keys and glockenspiel, it’s a light, snappy, pop tune that manages to evoke emotion without overwhelming the listener. From the Strokes-meets-Cure-ish chug of “Highway Steam” to the slackened bluesy strums of album closer “Love Song,” there’s nary a xylophone hit or a trumpet blow that sounds extraneous here. Everything’s in its right place, intricately arranged to complement rather than overpower Lane Halley’s delicate guitar hooks and Lee’s laconic musings about nostalgia and love. That Lee detachedly croons like Julian Casablancas, rather than whining wistfully like Win Butler, helps Hooded Fang avoid the high-flown melodramatics that most bands of their ilk rely on.
Two years is an awfully long turnaround for a band to follow up a buzzed-about EP, but much like Dr. Dre, these kids have been taking their time to perfect the beat. Brimming with finely chiseled gems and copious street cred (peep that cover art by Honest Ed’s sign painter Dougie Kerr), Hooded Fang Album will undoubtedly beguile the blogosphere and unapologetically wipe the smiles off the faces of every other gleeful orchestral pop group in town. Rival indie boppers best step their game, for Hooded Fang ain’t nothing to fuck with.