Release date: April 24, 2012

Midwestern indie rock quintet The Hudson Branch will release their sophomore album World Kid on April 24. Admittedly, this is the first time I’d been exposed to their work but my  first listen did get me excited to start the review. It’s important to note however, that when juxtaposed with their debut album Tightrope Walker (2009), World Kid is unsurprising to say the least, as the two are written in a very similar style. This is not to say the record doesn’t have its individual merits,  but for this first-time listener, the two admittedly did blend.

For The Hudson Branch, World Kid does successfully venture into new lyrical territory, intertwining basic themes of growing up and science (an odd combination perhaps, but one that merges seamlessly here). Their latest single Periodic Table of Elements (below) is a prime example, equating lost love to a chemical reaction: “Preposterously phosphorous leaves/and oxygen feels used again.”  Track Muons, falling suitably after the more poetic Memories in sequencing, is another clever mixture of science and experience, focusing on the processing of memories. In a sound reminiscent of Coldplay circa X & Y, it begins almost urgently, then transitions to a pleasantly upbeat tempo with a lighter rhythm.

Insane by far is the highlight on this record for both its lyrics and its musical maturity. Pertinent words are emphasized by tempo changes and layered lines, and the psychedelic feel that the track finishes on is an unexpected treat. Honorable mentions must also certainly go to three more tracks: To Piggyback, for its melancholy acoustic guitar solo, baritone vocals, and  incorporation of a full vocal chorus; to Working World, for its whimsical vocal introduction and offbeat guitar rift fights the momentum of the vocal lines, stemming tension, and lastly, to Tread Trample Tremble Trampoline, for its whispy female vocals, a deep, driving tribal beat and multiple breakdowns throughout.

Ultimately, The Hudson Branch have a strong album here if considered in isolation – though I don’t see much that adds to what the group is already known to be able to do. Considering the band broke with their experimental audio release, Kohn (winning them Best New Artist at the 2011 Third Coast International Audio Festival), it seems their penchant for experimentation is all but gone this album. It is certainly well-developed, highly focused in its themes, and demonstrates the group’s distinctive sound, so fans of their past work, I’m sure, will be satisfied to hear what they already know and love.

By Erin Torrance, a recent Publishing graduate venturing into the world of music. Erin lives in a flea-market chic apartment in Toronto with the love of her life and best friend — her cat Bea.

Did you read Jason Bugg’s take on the album?


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