Structured Disasters

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A grab bag of previously released singles and otherwise unheard numbers, Structured Disasters is by default a fragmented (even in comparison to other early Hood releases) but still enjoyable collection. One can almost audibly hear the band start to forge its own particular yet wide-ranging approach over the course of the collection, which appears to be organized chronologically. Thrashy but still downbeat numbers slam up against more overtly experimental approaches, brief snapshots of a group constantly trying out something a little new each time through. A standout here is "Choosing a Grimace," with its subtle but intense delivery, the squalling electric guitar a contrast to the quietly crushing sadness of the song as a whole. The vocal delivery in particular is noteworthy, hearing how the distanced singing is made even more so with effects and treatments, or sometimes left isolated and upfront if often at low volume. "A Dead Day," with its hazy combination of piano and acoustic guitar covering a free-floating vocal, and the spectacularly haunting "Fears Grow," with its wordless choir sonic effects mixed with string samples and the softest of singing, are two flat-out classics. "I Said Yes Unwise Once Again," meanwhile, calls to mind the calm/explosive balance of "Her Innocent Stock of Words" without simply rewriting that wonderful song. Some songs date back as far as 1990, the rough, minute-long "Swan Finer" being the prime example, featuring little more than distortion and buried vocals with a totally muffled mix. Time shows the increasing influence of technology on the band's approach -- the echoed electronic rhythms and sudden beeps and bursts on the (for this era of the band) lengthy "My Last August" flowing along with the guitar and vocals, not to mention the rough, steady beats on "Fears Grow" and the loops and quick percussion ticks on "How Bad Can It Be?"

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