With their first album, You & I, you sort of had the feeling that New Zealand outfit Cut Off Your Hands might have been yearning for the British Isles, but with their release of Hollow, the band has completed their maturation, giving fans a full-on venture into the sounds of the Oceanic region of the world.
“You Should Do Better” begins with a rolling drum beat, and chiming guitars, before Nick Johnston’s vocals soar above it all. Sure, people will hear remnants of the Smiths influence, but I hear Lucksmiths delivery, and the sharpness of the guitars employed by the Go-Betweens. Trust me, these are all good things. It’s furthered with “Nausea,” the second track on the record, where the chorus has this incredible melody that totally beats out anything the band has done to date (no offense fellas).
What might stand in the way for some of the long-time fans of Cut Off Your Hands is that the energy is markably different on this outing, in comparison to past works. Where you once found sharpness and angular cuts of the knife, the band has slowed things down, clearing the way for much warmer guitar sounds. Don’t get confused here, as the guitars on tracks like “Hollowed Out” definitely maintain an edge and brightness, but instead of forcing riff into riff, the guitars ring loudly throughout Hollow, providing listeners with a sound that has much more durability.
Still, there are several tracks available for those looking for a quicker pace, and the group’s more traditional sound. “Fooling No One” bounces in your ear, before the vocals swing in to provide that melodic approach the band rely upon. This is much more of a stomper than anything up to this point on Hollow. They follow it up with “Down and Out,” which relies upon ringing guitar chords in the background to provide that energetic punch you’re begging for the band to give you. Both tracks show the band still has what it takes to offer powerful pop gems with bits of fuel behind them. Just because you clean things up, doesn’t mean you can’t unleash a good solid rocker, right?
When they close out this album with “Buried,” it’s the perfect summation of Hollow. The track is drawn out slowly, though with the guitars maintaining their melodic sharpness. Johnston slowly works his way through his vocals, caring to emphasize every emotional point in your listening experience. Much like this song, the entire new record from Cut Off Your Hands is a bit of a slower burn, with longer songs, allowing the band to get the maximum quality out of all nine tracks. If anything, their maturity displays the group’s songwriting capabilities, giving listeners an experience that will surely leave a lasting impression.
Download: Cut Off Your Hands – You Should Do Better [MP3]