May 22, 2013

The Hernies: The Hernies

Athens Provisions

The label, Athens Provisions, aptly describes the debut from The Hernies as "Palace Music's Viva Last Blues made by a 19-year-old growing up in the strange age of the Internet." With The Hernies, that 19-year-old, Herny (ne Henry) Barbe, has crafted something weird and indelible.

The album is bursting with ideas, and there are myriad other references to be made. Shades of Elliott Smith color tunes like "You Say," 66 tender and brutal seconds of stereo-tracked acoustic psychedelia. Robert Pollard's nebulous solo output is another touchstone, and not just because Barbe, too, is a former high school baseball star. The oozing anti-pop of "Rising Senior/No Extras" calls to mind defunct august oddballs The Unicorns.

But comparing The Hernies to what came before it is misleading, because the album does seem to exist in a sort of meta-digi vacuum. Though these songs are lo-fi and guitar-centric, their most recognizable human characteristic is a total lack of attention span; they seem perfectly suited for mp3 or a similarly implacable format. Like the post-millennial underground that surrounds it, The Hernies is sort of messy and obstinate and beautifully bewildering. 3 out of 5.