The Hecks have a whole world of alt and avant-rock styles under their belt, and they deploy what they know with real aplomb. This self-titled album often feels like some vintage Sonic Youth, with just the right balance between indie-poppy songcraft and flared-up noisiness. A trio that will surely go far. CD / LP / Coloured LP on Trouble In Mind.
9/10 Robin Staff review, 31 August 2016
Top three fake-out swearwords: darn, goodness, heck. You’d think this band of Sonic Youth ripping naysayers would go straight to the source and say one of the big ones, but they keep it on the downlow for their Trouble In Mind debut. I know I keep complaining about this, and long into the nights of 2016 may it continue, but that new Preoccupations record is really bad, and really devoid of the exact thing that made Women’s guitar rock such an exciting proposition back in 2009. I want that tone, and the Hecks -- discordant and jubilant, grumpy and dynamic -- are going back to when that guitar tone jumped through an obstacle course to get to us.
Listen to “The Thaw” and get back to me. This song is one big unscrambling, buffering its final act of pure and blissful guitar wiring after minutes of thrashing and indecipherable post-punk muck. It gives you clarity as a birthday gift after a year of waiting, and that makes it all the sweeter. The record’s hooks each feel piecemeal, with that final chugged chord progression cutting out for the statue-solid drone of “Landscape Photography”, which sounds like drivers beeping their horns, trains slamming to a halt and wind blowing down pedestrians all at once. That it could get mixed up in this record of rawk is remarkable, and by the time it’s done the talky guitar vignette “Trust and Order” brings us back to the record’s warped but wonderful ways.
Like my favourite records that sound like this one, it’s always the moments, isn’t it? A moment can be when you’ve been struggling to keep up with an endless wall of lyrics before hearing just one that snaps you into the band’s setting, like “don’t burn the house down!”. It can be just a certain inflection of a riff travelling its longer journey, or an arpeggiated chord proudly stepping into view. When I listen to a record like this, and by that I mean when I listen to ‘Public Strain’, I always feel like it’s snowing hard and I’m trying to make out familiar shapes.
This record is a triumph like that: a treat for the ears as well as a test for the senses.
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