Published Oct 15, 2019Hovvdy have quietly become masters of creating comforting, wistful slowcore, set against backdrops of late humid summer nights in the bush, or crisp autumn walks in the woods with friends — the kind where you sense a deep connection with each other, but aren't really sure how you ended up there.
With Heavy Lifter, the Austin duo's third album, Hovvdy go beyond their familiar, tender mentality with brighter melodies, while still maintaining their earthy palette and subdued tension.
Compared to the tucked-in fuzziness of Cranberry from last year, or the eroded power pop of their debut, Taster, Heavy Lifter gleams with playful vocals and hip-hop-inspired beats paired with Charlie Martin and Will Taylor's usual go-to's of hushed guitar playing and soft-spoken delivery. "Ruin (My Ride)" craftily fuses a thumping beat and delicate Auto-Tune with warbling acoustic guitar — it's impossibly catchy, with Hovvdy sounding fresh and brimming with confidence. Elsewhere, the muted horns and shuffling rhythm of "Mr. Lee" is uncharacteristically peppy for Hovvdy, ushering in a golden sweetness that works well with their threadbare voices.
The neatly folded strums in "1999," "Pixie" and "Sudbury" are carefully faded and dog-eared, with slide guitar and a homely dustiness accentuated by Martin and Taylor's boyish Texan twang. The lightly brushed snare and twinkly finger-picking on "So Brite" lead to one of Hovvdy's most arrestingly pretty moments during the cradled refrain of, "What if I start to lose my mind? What if I start to lose my shine?" It drips with anxiety and a rush of urgency but Hovvdy take the time to contemplate and sketch out the possibilities.
Heavy Lifter is lovingly wrinkled with the sleepy, lethargic harmonies that Hovvdy are known for, while the band tiptoe around their DIY approach by wrapping it in another dimension of magnetic warmth. Hovvdy's balanced expressions between residual nostalgia and murmuring secrecy are worn in beautifully on Heavy Lifter. (Double Double Whammy)