The Lurid Traversal of Route 7

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Call Hoover's sole Dischord album emo if one wants -- because that would be right, but not in the washed-out whine sense of the late '90s. Much like the similarly fierce Drive Like Jehu from San Diego, when Lurid Traversal totally and completely fires up, Hoover are out for blood and sound it: musical aggression amped up high, lyrics clipped, and vocals screamed in usually very high pitches. The Jehu comparison also holds with the sense of obsessive, repetitive structure mixed with occasional time changes in a number of the songs -- if Hoover isn't quite as astoundingly epic as the West Coast quartet, the band's work is still far more than mere crash and bash. The group's secret weapon is that the foursome can be quiet when they want to be -- even tender, as the cricket-chirping then slow, slightly dreamy music that makes up the instrumental "Route 7" itself shows. Other songs like "Regulator Waits" and "Shut" place the emphasis on tension rather than explosion -- the singing and lyrics are still pained-sounding and to the point, but the music takes its time to subtly chug and chime along. The concluding "Cuts Like Drugs" is a perfectly balanced monster, some guitar scraping away in the distance like Daniel Ash in Bauhaus days while a suffused air of threat hangs over the whole performance (credit should be given to drummer Christopher Farral here and elsewhere). When the group openly bridges the step between quiet and loud, notably and almost jarringly on the fantastic "Father," the shift carries that much more impact from having started from a calmer point. The CD adds three extra tracks from an earlier single, a fine enough little bonus.

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