Hooray For Earth must've looked like party crashers when they opened for Surfer Blood and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart last year. Though they've staked out in different territories in terms of both production and influence, both headliners embody an ideal of what indie rock meant in the 1990s. Pains and Surfer Blood are heavy on the guitars, with songs written and recorded by four or five people in a room, each of whom has an easily identifiable job-- essentially a scrappier version of the "alternative rock" on the radio back in the day. Meanwhile, Hooray For Earth are what people are thinking of right now: songs composed on synthesizers that take cues from dance and psychedelia, fluidity between the roles of the players. But all in all, game recognized game, for on True Loves, Hooray For Earth also display a precocious knack for massive, major-key hooks that are "indie rock" in name only.
As you could probably guess from the preceding description, advance singles "True Loves" and "Sails" placed the New York quartet in the packed house of bands often tagged with "what we wished Congratulations sounded like." It's unfair on both counts, robbing MGMT of some sort of agency in their artistic trajectory and limiting Hooray For Earth in terms of scope. With its candy-coated vocals and fluorescent production, True Loves siphons color from all points on the synth-pop spectrum. The spiky arpeggios of "Realize It's Not the Sun" and "Sails" pay homage to the Knife as well as Depeche Mode's arena-ready 90s, but each employs them for divergent purposes. And the title track offers upstroked, ska-rhythm guitars and Noel Heroux's dexterous falsetto run, along with dub-like painting around the edges with eerie, desiccated sound effects.
Though sounding more like a singles collection than a coherent album-length vision, True Loves seems to unfold in a way that shows Hooray For Earth steadily accruing melodic confidence. While the six minutes of electro-tribal mantras on closer "Black Trees" recall earlier Yeasayer, the nervy palm-muted guitars and bold synth-horn charts of "No Love" and "Bring Us Closer Together" easily top Odd Blood's attempts at Trevor Horn-styled 80s chartbusters.
But the sequencing isn't perfect: In between the killer bookends, serviceable mid-album palate cleansers "Same" and "Hotel" form a 10-minute stretch that roams a bit too far off course before the big reveals. The lull in momentum is more pronounced since the lyrics can be simultaneously too plainspoken and standoffish: As extroverted as these songs sound, you really never get a full sense of Hooray For Earth's personality. Still, it's no slight to say they've allowed themselves room for growth after True Loves, and there's little reason to believe their name won't be at the top of the marquee on the next go-round.
1. "Realize It's Not The Sun" 2:48
2. "Last Minute" 4:10
3. "Sails" 5:14
4. "True Loves" 3:30
5. "Same" 5:00
6. "Hotel" 4:56
7. "No Love" 4:15
8. "Bring Us Closer Together" 4:27
9. "Pulling Back" 0:40
10. "Black Trees" 5:52