Hands

Synesthesia

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

It often seemed like virtually every 2010s indie band was just as able with sequencers and synths as they were with guitars and drums. Hands, which began as the project of Geoff Halliday and Ryan Sweeney, was no exception, and the dense electro-rock on their debut album, Synesthesia, owed as much to the gleaming sounds of Phoenix and Hot Chip as it did to the keyboard-heavy sounds of dance-punk forerunners like Hot Hot Heat. Throughout these songs, the bandmembers prove they're nothing if not self-aware: "Kinetic"'s name is a one-word description of their approach, although the actual song's dub-influenced bassline and reverb-laden production make it one of the more meditative tracks here. Hands also cleverly top-load the album with some of their most winning songs, from the agreeable opener "Trouble" to "Brave Motion"'s breezy pop to the slightly darker territory of "Videolove," which suggests something grittier than might be expected in lyrics like "Maybe I'll walk home/Maybe I'll tie off." At times, Synesthesia falls short of the brainy synth rock bliss Hands aim for, and while their songs are almost unfailingly bright and fizzy, they're not always especially distinctive. Still, even the least memorable tracks will make lots of listeners bob their heads whether they want to or not, since Hands' rhythms are so insistent and songs such as "Elegant Road" reveal a formidable way with sticky choruses. Synesthesia's most interesting songs, like the equally weird and catchy "The Game Is Changing Us" and "Lonesome Body," which puts the band's rock leanings at the forefront and suggests an inspired meeting between Battles and Yeasayer, hint that Hands are on their way to creating a niche for themselves in an overpopulated style.

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