Here, the duo trade their signature '90s emo twang and melancholic riffs for raucous, hyperactive garage punk jams that hardly stop to catch their breath. While the frequent changes in pacing found on older material added layers of complexity that are missing here, Lew Currie's relentless drumming remains intense and impressive. However, the upbeat cacophony does suit Ben Thompson's vocal style quite nicely, who opts for a fuzzy, distorted yowl similar to that of other surf-tinged acts like Wavves and Cheatahs.
"Ocean of Madness" is one of the stronger points of the album, acting as a brief respite from the hazy assault of the other songs, embracing downtempo rhythms and drawing attention to the multiple, memorable vocal hooks in the verses and chorus. "Buttercups" and the title track follow suit, but are amongst the more brash tunes here.
Overall, Hairball lacks some of the subtlety found in their previous work, but it's still an engaging listen from start to finish. (Topshelf)