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The opening seconds of Ovlov's second album TRU let everyone know right away that the band haven't toned down their guitar attack; the overloaded tones come flowing like lava out of the speakers and fill the ear canal with pure distortion and majestically fuzzy overtones. If anything, the band may have upped the stakes since 2013's Am made them the forerunners to take over the mantle of underground guitar heroes from Dinosaur Jr and Built to Spill. Throughout the album, Steve Hartlett and Morgan Luzzi show a mastery of their instruments that's never showy but always adds emotional depth and sonic thrills to the band's songs. They soar and crash around each other like majestic hawks, bleeding together and arcing apart in a shower of sparks. Bassist Michael "Boner" Hammond, Jr. and drummer Theo Hartlett are no slouches at their chosen tools of the trade, either, they provide dynamic support for the guitarists in thrilling fashion. Other bands may be technically better than Ovlov, some are louder, some are faster; not many combine the sound with epic songs that have giant hooks, emotions that turn on a dime, and a vocalist (Steve Hartlett) who can wring every last bit of feeling out of his limited range. The songs on TRU come from a variety of phases of the reunited band's career -- demos made before the band formed, live favorites that never made it on tape, newly written -- but they all sound as fresh as newly poured paint and they all feel like the best indie rock has to offer in 2018. They do borrow liberally from the past -- the spiraling, abjectly melancholy "Spright" gives Built to Spill a run for their money, "Short Morgan" squirms and shreds like a lost Dino Jr. track from 1986, and chunks of their sound wouldn't be possible without early emo bands like Jawbreaker -- but they aren't stuck there endlessly playing out the tropes that were run into the ground years ago. Instead, Ovlov inject so much fiery energy and intensity into the music, so much heart into the singing, and care into the way the record sounds that there is no doubt they are forging their own path cleared by the mighty power, both sonic and emotional, they unleash here. Ovlov started strong with Am; with TRU they have made good on all that promise and released the kind of breathtakingly great record most bands can only dream about making.

Track Listing

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