by Colin Vallee (@colinjbeard)
If you can take away anything from Haybaby’s excellent new record, They Get There, let it be that Leslie Hong has one of the best voices in rock music right now. She easily goes from calming, mocking whisper, to blood gurgling yell as quickly and confidently as my cat goes from wanting pets to trying to remove that same hand.
One of the first times I saw Haybaby was at the now defunct Shea Stadium where their live energy matched that of this record. Every song churns and rolls over itself, slowly building in intensity until it can barely hold itself together. Sometimes, Haybaby makes you wait for it like the seething “Monster”. Cryptic and quiet until the final minute when Hong yells out "Monster!" in a way you'll wanna yell along regardless of your mood. Other times, the three-piece get right to the point on tracks like the Pixies inspired “Empathy”.
Aside from Hong’s noteworthy vocals, she’s a clever and derisive songwriter. As Hong intones on songs like “Total Bore,” "Why'd you gaslight your whole weak life" a rush of faces flash by me, and I’m trying to figure which people I've known that doesn't apply to. Underneath these simple but cutting observations, band members Sam Yield and Jeremy Duvall provide twitchy rhythms that keep the songs slithering and tense.
My favorite track is "My Mother Told Me,” because I’ve been humming it since it was first released back on the 2012 EP It's Okay and it sounds even better after the album treatment (It's no longer on the Bandcamp version of It's Okay but I have it in my iTunes collection and will provide screenshots if asked). It’s such a snide song that takes the common parental complaint of "Why don't you try?" and turns it into a liberating call to arms. This album moves at it's own pace, and is absolutely a recommendation for any fans of Of Course You Do era Slothrust and literally anything else Tiny Engines puts out.