Cut Off Your Hands


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Three years after their debut, You and I, Cut Off Your Hands returned with Hollow, which featured new guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Lee as well as a revamped sound. The spiky post-punk-isms and experimental ballads of their first album were replaced with a shimmering sound that evoked the breezy melancholy of the Smiths as well as the grooves of late-‘80s Manchester. Hollow's finest moments channel the energy the band had on You and I into this smoother approach: opening track and lead single “You Should Do Better” bounces along on guitar filigrees and singer Nick Johnston's newfound croon. While it sounds like it could have come from the legion of followers the Smiths inspired the first time around, it’s still undeniably catchy. Meanwhile, “Hollowed Out” bears an echo of late-‘80s Echo & the Bunnymen, and “Oh Hell” breathes new life into a vintage Manchester groove (not surprising, considering drummer Brent Harris wrote and sings the song). As on You and I, Hollow's slower moments aren’t the most memorable, but when Cut Off Your Hands play to their pop instincts, as they do on “All It Take”’s endearing backing vocals and on “Down & Out” -- which burrows into listeners’ brains through sheer force of will -- they can’t miss. A more concise and consistent outing than their debut, Hollow reaffirms that while Cut Off Your Hands may not be innovators, they’re still quite good at what they do.

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