Published Nov 11, 2015Ovlov's demise created a vast hole in the punk scene. They were one of the most inventive, exciting and honest bands of the past few years, but the emergence of Stove should mean that they aren't too sorely missed. Steve Hartlett is back with Is Stupider and has continued creating the glorious scrappy, messy punk that Ovlov excelled at.
"Don't know who I am, so I act like who I'm with" is how Hartlett introduces himself in opener "Stupider." This self-doubt and self-questioning is omnipresent throughout Is Stupider's 40 minutes of musical self-flagellation. Consisting of songs intended for Ovlov, Is Stupider is a treat from start to finish, albeit with a few minor wobbles along the way.
Sitting nicely in that garage-punk/grunge-y/indie pocket, this is one for the cold winter afternoons and those long late nights contemplating how you ended up sleeping alone on a futon. The production quality might not be for everybody, but it's endearing, and provides an honest and raw approach that is crucial to Hartlett's songwriting. The driving verses in "Dusty Tree" will have your head nodding and your foot tapping, "Ex-Punk" is plodding and grungy as hell and "Stupidest" sounds like the soundtrack to a boss battle on some '80s SNES game.
Closer "Dumboy" is a drawn-out, sprawling finale; the only complaint to be made is that the last three minutes seem slightly self-indulgent. But, hey, considering Hartlett wrote and played everything on this album, maybe a little self-indulgence is forgivable.