It Hugs Back - Demo

Bill Cummings 01/08/2006

Rating: 4/5

It Hugs back are a highly tipped London three piece who's sound, (according to their bio) lies somewhere between "Wilco and the softer side of Sonic Youth" and whilst those comparisons could be made, the main thing that strikes me about this demo is the quality of the songwriting on offer, which hints at the melodic invention of Bright eyes and vocals that are whisperingly reminscant of the late great Eliott Smith.

First track 'Lights In The Trees' is a dreamily strummed effort that swims through gentle distorted fuzz, hushed almost Americana style vocals cower beneath the midnight sky, this track bares all the hallmarks of Eliott Smith's best bittersweet melancholia. But It Hugs Back aren't restricted by these influences; the jazz finale is enjoyable, and quite unexpected.

'It's true' isn't quite as good, a more lonely affair, a solemnly picked guitar kicks off this track, its like staring at a orange sunset and holding hands with your girlfriend. Its poetic, heart on the sleeve, dynamics are enjoyable ("I think a lot, I like to think about you"), but its melody and backing don't hit the heights of the opener.

Lastly is 'Miss Being Young'. Its clipped drumming, and breathy vocal lines lazily step along the intricate summer hewn guitars, its like Pavement being given a massage. Lovelorn, heartbroken and quite frankly beautiful, like a small unassuming poem set to music.

If you gave It Hugs Back a casual Myspace listen you might suspect that they were too in awe to the Alt-Americana that pervaded around five years ago, to ever step outside of their influences, and you may have a small point. But give them a good listen; unsigned songwriting as fiercly individual, personal and well constructed as this doesn't pass my desk every day. Savour it.

'Lights In The Trees' is to be released on 7" by Tigertrap Records on September 18th

It Hugs Back Website