You have to try really hard to not get hooked on Hypoluxo’s self-titled third LP. The sound is compelling right from the get-go and it never stops until the tenth track fades away. The way the tempo keeps an urgent pace while the guitars breeze through with striking riffs and effortlessly tight angular lead lines, the way the stabbed and barked vocals of Samuel Cogen feels emotionally-laden, providing much of the bite in this record. Hypoluxo has the urgency of post-punk with the crystalline smoothness of angular indie and dream pop, a combination that seemed perplexing to me at first but the fact that they managed to create a bleak yet fun record without any time wasted feels nothing but triumphant.
This record glides through emotions of unease and trying to overcome it, and uses these as poles to pull the tension in each song. The band struggled to make ends meet to get this record done and much of that struggle is written in this record, like in the tightly wound “Ridden” which declares: “I’m sick of being a catastrophe” and resolves to get out of it no matter one: “I feel I’m better than that”.
Another theme in this record is the importance of time, and Hypoluxo is determined to waste none of it. Every second there’s a melodic moment or an interweaving of riffs from guitarists Cameron Riordan and Samuel Cogen, if not there’s a tight bobbing groove from the rhythms of Marco Ocampo and bassist Eric Jaso. “Tenderloin” has tempo and sectional changes that won’t allow for any breathing. The line: “Tick tock yeah you’re straight out of right out of luck / running out of time never seems to be enough” expresses both the exhaustion and the urgency to keep up or fall down.
Despite all of its bleakness, one thing that the band doesn’t take for granted is their drive to have fun. “Nimbus” makes for a great dance-rock tune while “Shape Ups” is a two minute flex of guitar intricacy filled with tight rhythmic prowess and plenty of exciting twists and turns.
The band shows their most vulnerable side in “Shock”, where the stress and worry rings out with the inescapable fear of the 2020 pandemic. “There’s a change in the air / let the rent come down”, Cogen sings with a fleeting lack of resolution. Hypoluxo is a record fueled by struggle and the urge to overcome it, and this Brooklyn quartet has achieved it with style and precision to boot.