As the title of Odonis Odonis' second album implies, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled's loud songs appear on its first half and the quieter ones on the second. It's an interesting concept, and one that the band emphasizes with the interludes "Tension" and "Release" separating its sides. Even though its divisions aren't always that strict -- an acoustic guitar somehow cuts through the din on "Mr. Smith"'s more melodic passages, while the haunting "Highnote" boasts sharper edges than some of the other soft-boiled songs -- this yin-yang approach doesn't obviously play to Odonis Odonis' strengths. Catchy songwriting aside, a large part of the appeal of their debut album, Hollandaze, came from the way its songs layered and juxtaposed surf, industrial, post-punk, shoegaze, and other sounds and eras in unexpected and seemingly effortless combinations. Separating the elements of their music might seem antithetical to what worked before, but both sides of Hard Boiled Soft Boiled yield some standouts. "Are We Friends" recalls Liars' brash noise rock, and with lyrics as blunt as the sonics ("You can give me oral/It might seem immoral"), it's the musical equivalent of an unchecked id. Meanwhile, "New Obsession" and "Breathing Hard"'s mix of pummeling beats and lunging guitars feels like a cross between Hollandaze's lo-fi buzz and the Better EP's sleeker attack. The album's second half showcases Odonis Odonis' skill with dreamy textures and melodies that never feel wishy-washy. "Angus Mountain" fuses synth pop and shoegaze into a hybrid that's equally seductive and unsettling, while "Alexa Wait" closes the album with one of the most spaciously blissful tracks in the band's songbook. While Hard Boiled Soft Boiled's polarized presentation sometimes makes these songs seem more monotonous than they actually are, the album's highlights are on par with Odonis Odonis' previous bests.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares