November 25, 2014

Hand Sand Hands: Good Luck With That Review

Autumn + Colour

Coming off of last year's excellent Lord of Talk, 2014 has been a banner year for Jonathan Miller and his psych-pop project Hand Sand Hands. Earlier this year, Miller brought us the elusive, string-heavy The Shipping Forecast EP, which felt more like an abstracted take on Thee Silver Mt. Zion than the DIY grit-and-groove of his previous work. The disparity of both releases spoke to Miller's dedication to balance, and each was executed perfectly.

This time around, Miller plays toward outsider pop. Good Luck With That is noisy and peculiar down to every looped melody. It's pop music designed and destined for the open-minded, similar to the genre-hopping music curated by Stones Throw or DFA.

"Pores" sets the stage for the album's raucous artfulness. From the track's sudden, bipolar opening and into the focused but manic drum loop, Miller plays his off-the-cuff pop like a DIY TV on the Radio. The driving percussion and minimalist grind even resemble "Wolf Like Me" without the meticulous distortion, but still frayed into a catchy din. "Day Funeral" refocuses the album's aim, also locking into HSH's perpetual motion machine.

The production and arrangement on "Valentine" and "Lipstick" suggest late-period Tom Waits, but equipped with a Kaoss pad. On "Pontiak" and "Red," Miller ditches the oddly angled rhythms for an anxious, mutant take on new wave, full of glitches and haphazard tunefulness.

Hand Sand Hands plays Flicker Theatre & Bar on Thursday, Dec. 11.