The issue with music associated with the “post”- subgenre prefix ( post-rock, post-punk, post-metal, post-whatever, etc…) is that, while there exist a multitude of brilliant bands and albums that can be so categorized, this meta-genre’s obsession with atmosphere and being really fucking artsy and serious has a tendancy to suck any opportunity for fun right out of the airlock. This is thankfully not the case for Toronto’s HORMOANS, whose new album Slander showcases a deft blend of complexity and memorable hooks, proving that post-rock need not be post-fun.
The opening track “Only One” bashes out a riff that is labyrinthine and catchy as hell. The song has an urgent, angsty feel driven by guitarist and vocalist Steve’s angular, staccato chord progressions coupled with his mournful, subdued croon that builds to a satisfyingly brash snarl. Just as you think the song is going to continue on a predictable trajectory, Steve and bassist Matt drop into a surf rock-infused version of the riff from the Roy Orbison classic “Pretty Woman” before busting out a chorus that wouldn’t seem out of place on Nevermind. What the hell? That this seemingly incongruent style mash-up works so well is a testament to HORMOANS’ song writing ability. Too often, when bands attempt to combine a whole whack of disparate styles, the end result is a complete mess, but “Only One,” to use the vernacular of today’s young people, just fucking slaps!
HORMOANS keep the surf vibe rolling on “Answers” with a laid-back, syncopated drum pattern reminiscent of something from Weezer’s Blue Album. (Full Disclosure: I don’t listen to a ton of post-rock, so my frame of reference for this style is rooted firmly in the 90s alternative scene. Fuller Disclosure: I am old.).
While there are a few tracks on Slander that sound a bit similar to each other, mixing predominantly uniform indie and post-rock tracks like “Cannonball” and “Avalanche” with the more surf-infused numbers like “Crobar,” as well as heavier fare such as “So You Know,” keeps the overall experience fresh and entertaining throughout.
Something that also stands out about Slander is the quality of the recording. All the instruments ring through crystal clear. To a certain extent, “post-” music focuses on creating atmosphere through instrument tone and timbre, so being able to hear what each of those instruments is doing is kind of important. The drums are just forward enough in the mix to give the songs a drive without overpowering everything else.
So while it’s true I don’t know shit about post-rock, I do know when I hear something I like. Slander is interesting, complex, driving, and most importantly, really goddamn fun. HORMOANS have made a post-rock record that knows how to have a good time. If it were a breakfast cereal, it would be Cinnamon Post-Crunch.
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson