Destruction in Yr Soul is Jordan Geiger’s third studio album as Hospital Ships, but the first he’s realized with a legitimate band. And it shows. The music is gnarlier, often downright ugly — played with a reckless, live-in-the-room sprawl — in contrast to the gorgeous, impeccably layered psychedelics of his previous LP, 2011′s Lonely Twin. Each beat stutter-steps awkwardly; electronic loops slip and out of time with each other; fragmented guitars stumble drunkenly in and out of the mix. But that cluttered aesthetic suits the chaos in Geiger’s songwriting: “Joan of Arc,” a fuzzy psych-pop sing-along, conjures the off-kilter, borderline-disintegrating grandeur of Neutral Milk Hotel; “Servants” sounds like two unrelated songs playing simultaneously, juxtaposing blissful guitar-peggios with jagged electronic spasms.
But for all its jigsaw-puzzle symmetry, the most affecting moments on Destruction are the most simple. The centerpiece is “If It Speaks,” a dynamic indie-rock epic that smacks like a wrecking ball. An anguished Geiger projects apocalyptic imagery (“the tyranny in the voice of the crowd,” “the sweet relief of death”) in his modest yelp, as the band behind him simmers and explodes. A hypnotic drum kit pulses forward; feedback flickers in the shadows like dying light-bulbs. And then there’s the Earth-rattling, heart-tugging explosion — the kind of quiet-to-loud shift so often over-used in indie rock. It’s an inevitable climax, but Geiger and company make that inevitability feel vital and vibrant.