Echoing some Southern California punk bands of the early '80s, Toronto-based group Hormoans have found their niche meshing the urgency of punk music with the freewheeling energy of surf rock. On their sophomore album, Slander, the enigmatic, surnameless trio of Steve, Matt and Cyrus texture heavy grunge guitars with single string riffs for a hard-edge surf product that is filled to the tipping point with dark, raucous sound.
The formula is not overly complicated, and Hormoans stay in a single lane throughout most of the album, only occasionally drifting over the lines. Of the 11 songs (including hidden track "Doc Brown"), eight of them deal with tumultuous and insecure relationships. The line between love and hate is further muddled by ambiguous lyrics, especially for songs like "Avalanche!" and "No You Don't" (the latter of which states "You know that you're full of hatred / Yeah, it shows in the form of benevolence"), which deliver contradictory sentiments within the same song without effective exposition or transition; although straightforward punk progressions are at the heart of many of the compositions, it's difficult to get a clear reading of how some of the songs want us to feel about a particular subject, beyond the vigour with which they are played.
The thunderous drum and bass duo have the most success supporting guitar player Steve's Bloc Party-like guitar riffs on "Cannonball." The dance-y jam's darker edge is still present in the tone of Matt's thrumming bass, but the galvanized guitar melody keeps the track optimistic while Cyrus bounces the beat along with buoyant double snare hits. "Back of The Bus" is another song that contributes to the notion that Slander gives only given a glimpse into Hormoans' true, but untapped potential: the guitar rips and rides a gnarly scale throughout, the drum fills are lightning quick and Steve's howling vocals elicit a visceral response. It's a lethal combination of energy and melody; if only there were just a little more of that here. (Independent)
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