Along with the classic Icky Mettle by contemporaries the Archers of Loaf, Small 23's True Zero Hook announced the arrival of an unusually vibrant early-'90s indie and punk rock scene in Chapel Hill, NC. Although neither band lived up to the potential promised by these records, both albums are exciting snapshots of a post-Nirvana/Husker Dü moment when it seemed like great indie guitar rock was poised to take over the world. True Zero Hook is led off by the irresistibly catchy title track, which accomplishes the rare feat of combining a great indie-punk melody with the sort of emotionally charged vagueness that made R.E.M. albums like Murmur and Reckoning so amazing. Like the Archers, Small 23 (later known as Small) rocks royally, but also possesses an uncommon, appealingly melancholic lyrical directness that sets the band apart. In addition, True Zero Hook is filled with subtle hooks that reveal themselves on repeated listenings. Overall, a don't-miss album for any serious fan of the early-'90s indie rock genre.
AllMusic Review by Pemberton Roach