it-hugs-back-insideyourguitarSo It Hugs Back are four dudes (Matthew Simms - guitar + vocals, Jack Theedom - organ + backing vocals, Paul Michael - bass, Dimitri Sudell - drums) originally from Maidstone, now London (of course), who take a DIY approach to their music. Releasing 7”s on small - and even their own - labels, producing the handmade and stitched records themselves, and recording Inside Your Guitar in their own studio. This is their debut full-length and they’re lucky enough to have joined up with the mighty 4AD to release it.They basically sound like vaporous wafts of guitar and organ, reverb and feedback hanging above a river in the early morning whilst the bass pulse throbs and cottony cushioned drums live next door. You could easily pick out the influences of any number of bands here, but you don’t particularly feel the need to, they’re just really good at what they do (but I might as well mention Yo La Tengo, American Analog Set, Stereloab and Sonic Youth).From the lulling abrasiveness of ‘Q’, to the sleepy gallop of ‘Don’t Know’, it’s clear the sorts of contrasts and themes the band are focusing on here - exploring the tensions between those seeming polar opposites. It’s great to be able to say that they do so successfully. Things would float away into yawnsville on some songs if the band didn’t have some keen tunes - you can only go so far on mood after all. Songs like ‘Back Down’ have killer hooks surfacing on a bed of that vapourous mood music they create, but more importantly a truly rocking sound is there too, letting you grab onto something concrete. ‘Now And Again’ is pretty fucking great, it has the same overt catchiness, but it also has chest-rattling bass and an ugly guitar sound, both of which are definitely good things in a pop song.The album does, sometimes, feel a little samey over it’s length. The slower songs get lost in the haze and perhaps drag a little (‘Soon’, which is mighty fine while it lasts, but has this sort of weird effect of mushing up the songs that succeed it), but if you start in the middle or flit around to different tracks every now and then (not all the time though, I’m a big proponent of mainly listening to albums in sequence) then you notice the excellence of each track on it’s own. Such as ‘Remember’ which comes across as a slowed down soul song (much like Bright Black Morning Light’s Motion To Rejoin from last year), full of nice touches like xylophone, and a weepy plodding melody.The catchy pop elements are smeared over, obscured, and to some extent so are the rocking parts. I think I would prefer the chaotic shredding that lies dormant to surface some more, there are one or two parts of feedback rending and they're killer (such as ‘Rehearsal’ at the end, where guitar freakouts and cymbal abuse abound). As for the catchy pop it’s hard to find fault with. Maybe if they were more overt with it every now and then? But in some ways that defeats the idea behind the sound they’ve created, the rock and the pop is supposed to be glimpsed, never too explicitly seen, even though that can make an album’s worth of material hard to sit through. This is a pretty fucking cool album, basically.80%It Hugs Back on MySpace