Hausu's debut, Total, draws from a smart assortment of retro alt-rock influences that include a bleak, baritone Robert Smith style of crooning and cathartic twin-guitar interaction that brings to mind Fugazi and Sonic Youth. Hausu's hard-strummed arrangements, love of noise, and skinned-knee production make them sound like a raw conglomeration of the various Northwest area bands of the '90s and classic '80s acts from Manchester and left-of-the-dial college radio. Like other modern indie groups indebted to post-punk, such as Iceage and Women, Hausu manage to balance out all of their rainy-day emotional musings with strong songs, as they sneak bright, crystalline hooks into the shadowy crawlspace that comprises their sound. Despite being a relatively aggressive outing with multiple lapses into odd tunings and dissonance ("Leaning Mess" runs the gamut, going from sweetly subtle to bashed-out screamo), there is an even share of melodic moments as well. Hard dynamic shifts from jangle to feedback squalls give Total an indie aesthetic, but it also has an enigmatic quality. With multiple listens, the album grows, twisting the infectious, drifting "back to sleep" vocal of "Gardenia" into a permanent earworm, making "Leaning Mess" and "1991-2091" feel like distant classics, and unveiling hidden treats like the sweet comedown after the rampaging overdriven middle section of "Kool Off." It's not an easy album to absorb all at once, but it's a surprisingly rewarding, mature release from this freshman group.
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover