Hotline TNT: Cartwheel (Third Man) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Hotline TNT

Cartwheel

Third Man

Nov 29, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


From the moment the rich jangle of opener “Protocol” gives way to a plunging wave of warped guitar and ethereal melody, you know what you’re going to get from Hotline TNT’s second album, Cartwheel. As it segues into “I Thought You’d Change” it’s clear that what you’re getting is absolutely wonderful.

Teenage Fanclub’s hazy vocal lines interweave with Bob Mould guitar thunder, all given a delicious production sheen that recalls the most delectable of shoegaze. Sure, when you throw in the Pixies strum of “Beauty Filter” you may think this is pure homage, but you’d be mistaken. Tough, triumphal drums and juddering keys fill out the sound, the carefully balanced mix creating the sensation of a half-remembered, sweet dream.

“I Know You” has a near-monotone vocal line that sleepwalks into a glorious wall of cymbals and overdrive during its nominal chorus. Grand sweep, gorgeous hook, and gleaming satisfaction form the foundations of these waterfall songs, cumulatively creating a headswim of drifting delight.

That founder member Will Anderson played nigh on every note on the album feels right—its intention is clear throughout, all elements carefully curated to create the ultimate fuzz pop experience.

The supercharged “Out of Town” melds into the soft, tough swoon of “Maxine,” Anderson intoning “You’ll see/Downstream/Just stay with me or leave” with classic shoegaze nonchalance. Anderson’s lyrics here are a bounteous blur, from the slyly specific (“Crossed off all your thoughts on distortion/Play your old songs,” he winks on “BMX”) to the gently nostalgic (“Blue and me let you be/But you’re on our team at the stone quarry,” from album closer “Stump”) via the deeply heartfelt (“Memorize the time I spent trying to hold you,” he declares on the aforementioned “I Know You”), most buried just below the surface of the mix, tempting you to tease them out.

Cartwheel is a big, bright, beautiful album. It uses familiarity to bring you in, scratch those indie rock itches, then fires up the pleasure centers with its dedication to sonic satisfaction. There’s every chance you’ll fall entirely in love with this album. Will Anderson knows that, and has made a warm, magnificent embrace of a record to welcome you in. (www.hotlinetnt.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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