The Hobbes Fanclub

Up at Lagrange

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With the dramatic way that the shoegaze movement crashed and burned in the early '90s, with the main players doing weird things like going country (Moose), turning into a terrible rawk band (Chapterhouse), or basically vanishing (My Bloody Valentine), one would have been hard-pressed to believe that 25 years later bands would still be gazing as hard as they do. Case in point, the Hobbes Fanclub. Their debut album, Up at Lagrange, is a 36-minute trip back to a simpler time of pedals, all-encompassing reverb, and sleepy melodies punctuated with blasts of noise. Basically it's as if Ride never went Dad Rock, and stuck to writing songs that sound plucked out of dreams and delivered on a cloud. The English trio make no concessions for the actual year their album was released, instead choosing to play it arrow-straight and electronic-free, with guitars and more guitars leading the way, with the heavily-doused-in-murky-sound vocals swimming just below the surface. Thanks to their knack for a sharp guitar hook here, a sticky-sweet melody there, and an overall grasp of dynamics and feel that really helps the sound pop in all the right places, what could have been a bloodless nostalgic exercise is instead a pretty damn good nostalgic exercise. It's filled with a few energy-blasted tracks that sound ready to jump the tracks, some more introspective songs that are perfect for daydreaming, and a solid bunch that hover around midtempo while they weave pretty patterns of noisy sound. There may not be anything new going on, but the band so lovingly re-creates the shoegaze era that it's impossible not to be impressed. Up at Lagrange's songs, performances, and overall sound are so good, it's not hard to jump the Hobbes Fanclub to the front of the modern shoegaze pack right up around the spot that the Pains of Being Pure at Heart recently vacated.

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