by Josh Ginsberg (@world0fdarkness)
“Fronts” is the first track of Hypoluxo’s debut LP If Language. After a drifting ambient amuse-bouche, your palette is ready for the loose-limbed, sun-blanched rock of Hypoluxo, who hitch the disaffected baritone of Julian Casablancas to the narrow chords of Lotus Plaza. Propelled by a polite rhythm section, Hypoluxo is bob-your-head-music. The edges of Hypoluxo’s guitars sound like they got wet taking a spaced-out walk on the shore, on a grey afternoon, after getting too close to the waves that ooze slowly landward. They wobble slightly with surprise, like the colorless flesh—if it can even be called flesh—of a beached jellyfish. Elsewhere on the album, synths and effects-laden guitars evoke Slowdive’s Souvlaki and the sunshine of Hypoluxo, FL, the little town after which the band is named.
“Fronts” is a song about the importance of not confusing the façade we develop to impress others with our actual selves. This is actually a sort of pressing concern in Hypoluxo’s adopted home of Brooklyn—where it sometimes feels that the cultural milieu has been so thoroughly coopted by the fashion and entertainment industries that its necessary to check yourself over in the mirror in the morning to make sure you’re still you, and not a branded simulacrum of yourself. Perhaps now more than ever, in the age of dating apps, people spend a lot of time constructing an inauthentic image of themselves as a way of capturing the attention of others. Singer and guitarist Samuel Cogen sounds like he’s sporting a stylized smirk when he sings “It’s funny when you dress to impress / when he doesn’t even look at you.” Cogen’s utterance of these words feels a little cruel and adds an unexpected tonal component of the song. A straightforward lyric like “you’ve got nothing to lose” gets complicated by Cogen’s cold-blooded deadpan—you’re not sure if the lyric is meant to reassure the person he’s singing to or suggest that they’re bereft of any value whatsoever.
Hypoluxo’s hooks are subtler than many of their Brooklyn dream-pop contemporaries, but their surprising cynicism, which harkens back to the sneers of the oft-mythologized 70s New York, sets them apart from the other bands at the beach.