Cut Off Your Hands, Hollow

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 07.21.11 in Reviews

When a young Auckland quartet chooses to have its debut overseen by both ex-London Suede guitarist Bernard Butler and Blur producer/mixer Stephen Street, they’re making no secret of their affection for Britpop. But where 2009′s You & I jittered with caffeinated dance-punk, their second, self-produced second album snuggles brazenly and consistently with the Smiths and other kindred souls who picked up 12-string guitars and let their jingle jangle. This is not a band that hides its influences: Cut Off Your Hands loves ’80s/early-’90s guitar bands, and does not shy away from pinpointing and reproducing their favorite riffs.

Auckland quartet wears their Britpop influences on their sleeves

Downplaying momentum in favor of texture and mystery, Hollow lays the reverb on thickly and fills the spaces between with rumble and sustain. The resulting haze sometimes swallows singer Nick Johnston; the most significant and penetrable words of “Down and Out” are its title. But a wide and tall longing shines through from beginning to end, and its fidelity makes this album far tighter than its predecessor. Like the other tracks, the Byrds-y ballad “By Your Side” chronicles a heap of existential pain, but offers steadfastness as an antidote. Having here honed their sound, these devout Kiwis may never budge again.