The Hangabouts – Illustrated Bird (2011; 2014 reissue)

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I somehow overlooked Illustrated Bird when initially released in 2011, so I am very grateful Suburban Hi-Fi has given this great album the reissue treatment.

John Lowry and Gregory Addington are the main men behind the Hangabouts, whose snappy pop songs evoke essential aspects of their ancestors without bowing down to mindless mimicry. A strong sense of originality, teamed with off-kilter curves allow the duo’s attentively constructed material to exist in a timeless realm.

Fueled by a swaggering boogie beat, “Dr. Dragon” thumps and pumps to a cool glam rock stance, where songs like “I’ll Get Over It,” “Missing In Action,” “She Hates You,” “Roman Forum,” and “Forest For The Trees” rein as instant ear-grabbers, thickened by tasty hooks and imaginative arrangements. Conceived of super frisky rhythms, “November” radiates to a stone cold sugar-high, delivered in the best bubblegum tradition possible, while the title track draws the curtains, dims the lights and slips into an introspective mood, and the warped and spacy sound patterns of “Right On Catherine” tip directly towards the head rock corner of the room.

Warm and breezy vocals, beaming with an easy-going demeanor, blend well with the animated keyboards, on-the-spot drumming and harmonious guitars gracing the songs. Executing their songs with passion and integrity, the Hangabouts focus on quality, but still know how to have fun and habitually toss peculiar moves into the show when least expected. If bands such as the Beach Boys, Fountains Of Wayne, Big Star, and Apples In Stereo send you spinning with glee, you’re guaranteed to lavish mountains of praise on Illustrated Bird.

By fusing standard pop accessories with snippets of psychedelic exploration, the Hangabouts have recorded an album that not only pays loving tribute to their heroes, but adds weight and depth to the art forms they so obviously appreciate.

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