by Alex Monzel
Hooded Fang returns with their fifth release, Venus On Edge. If you were hoping for the elegantly polished sounds of their critically-acclaimed debut LP, Album, then please allow me to be the first to prepare you for the record that sounds like it was recorded in your brother’s friend’s pot dealer’s mom’s basement. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: poor production value is not an artistic choice; it’s just lazy.
Without careful deliberation, it’s quite difficult to discern exactly which instruments are producing what sound. As far as I know, Hooded Fang still has a horn section (with Julia Barnes on trombone and Lane Hailey on trumpet), so it’s a shame they’re not as pronounced as they could be.
The record’s singles, “Tunnel Vision” and “Dead Battery,” are no exception to this, rather there’s a bit more melody to the noise. Like me, you’ll probably find yourself tapping your fingers on the steering wheel to the beat, but as a whole they’ll leave you somewhat unsatisfied.There’s little variation within tracks, and even less between them. The instrumentation is repetitive, and the vocals do little to remedy that, and each track follows this same formula quite closely to produce a monotonous string of songs.
The latter half of the album breaks that monotony, however. I found myself so engrossed by the hypnotic melodies and driving beats of “Miscast” that I completely forgot to check what the title of the song was so I could write this piece of praise. And if you’re not impressed and intrigued by the percussion on “Venus” then you probably don’t have ears.
Broadly put, Venus On Edge is an album that had a solid foundation going into it, but made a few too many poor artistic choices for it to truly reach its potential. It truly is bittersweet when a good band makes a not-so-good record. That disappointment is always coupled with the hope that the next one will be better.