In all of the years of reviewing records, the one I didn't get to would haunt me for what seemed like forever. When Houston's Hearts of Animals dropped the 2014 album Another Mutation, I was sad that I never got around to giving it a proper review. I walked around with that misstep noodling around in my head for a good while, that is until I heard an early version of their latest record, Human Size. The days of lo-fi aesthetic are gone and replaced with a more focused and fuller sound than on previous records. Where past albums from the band sounded like a mere solo project, Human Size takes the band's mesmerizing set from the first Day For Night, and capitalizes on it in every way. In just nine songs they remind you why you're such a fan, and why you'll probably always be as well.
With more of a rock tone, the opening track "Marsha," take the distorted guitar that had started to leak into live songs and celebrates it. Complete with Mlee's signature vocals, there's a searing guitar solo that hops onto the track, reminding you that this is indeed a different version of the band without steering too much from its initial sound. While the band takes a turn that's a bit sixties rock inspired on the second track, it's the bubbly nature of the third song "Lost in the Translation," that sticks with you. The catchy hooks and chorus immediately stick in your head, and the higher production quality of the song make it that much more noteworthy. It's the best mix of how the early Hearts of Animals records sounded with a new twist.
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The band keeps that hooky sound on the following track, "Sex Pond" while they intertwine some of those '60s vibes creating another song that's hard not to love. The use of the full band here really shines, as they add a new life to the band without deterring too much from the overall sound. They bring back some of that heavy distortion on "Cat Karma," and it works, but the fevered intensity of the track "Deathwish" with its catchy and bubblegum sound will be what you remember here. With nods to garage rock, folk, and pop, the song offers up funny lyrics and sweet melodies that you should fall for on the first listen.
That stays intact on the following track, "Floating Squares," though it's about a half step slower, the song is super catchy and you're immediately humming along to it before it ends. While this is followed by the slow burn of "Flight," the final track on the album "Sax Wizard" really ties things together nicely. Offering saxophone peppered throughout the riff heavy track alongside Mlee's hauntingly sweet vocals, the song brings most of the elements of the record together nicely, offering up a fitting end to an album that seemingly took too long to come out.
The \result is a release that any fan should love, and any casual listener should find a new band to adore with. You can stream Human Size in all of the usual places, or you can order the cassette version of the album from Miss Champagne Records. You can also get your own copy directly from the band when they perform their tape release party this Saturday May 5 at Vinal Edge. The all ages show will also feature sets from Bask and Frog Hair, with gratis beer for the adults. Doors at 7 p.m.; Free.