Hovvdy: True Love (Grand Jury) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 21st, 2023  


True Love

Grand Jury

Oct 29, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

I arrived late to the hammock-hangout hums of Hovvdy. But Austin natives Charlie Martin and Will Taylor, whose fourth full-length True Love glows with dusty middle Americana, won me over from the tender “doo-doos” of opener “Sometimes.” These are the boys you’d bring home to meet your parents, their music so unassuming and light that, as the platitude goes, it passes like a Lake June breeze on a balmy afternoon. That’s not to say that True Love is a surface-level saunterer. There are intimate ruminations on love and its breakdown, family, memory—all set to carefully arranged acoustic strums, piano flickers, electronic chirping. Somehow, it’s all as distant as the album cover yet so close that you can hear the creaks of their bronze guitar strings in the gaps between notes.

On the title track, every ingredient melts together into the emblematic, perfect version of Hovvdy. A reliable chord progression, vocal harmonies that effortlessly slot together, a hook that reduces love to a beautiful, simplistic sentiment (“You comfort me, Rosy”). “Joy” passes similarly, its post-breakup evaluation landing on an ember of optimism amidst the laidback campsite strums—“I’ve got time to spend/Fall into place in the end.” Midpoint “Hope” substitutes the brightness of preceding songs for an auto-tuned vocal loop—“Do you misunderstand what it looks like on my side/Hope I’m not wrong”—that sits under instrumental layers; the piece unfolds with building linearity that would satisfy the New York minimalists. Other high points are the sweetly nostalgic “Lake June” and the cowboy pop scout-troop sing-along “GSM,” which would sound at home on a mid-era Wilco record.

With their most refined work yet, Martin and Taylor cement themselves as acoustic indie pop mainstays, a more playful alternative to Big Thief. There’s a quote from Humans of New York that I keep close by in times of uncertainty: “For the longest time, I was so focused on being deaf in my left ear, that I almost forgot my other ear was perfectly fine.” True Love is the musical equivalent. Hovvdy stumbles upon a clearing of closure on its post-breakup search, and as sepia-hued strums lead the way, Taylor confirms with a half-smile, “I’m still walking.” (www.hovvdy.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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