Album Review: It Hugs Back – Inside Your Guitar

I’m sure I’m not alone in my pre-occupation with this band’s name. What is ‘It’? A kitten? Your drunken Uncle? The monster under your bed? Even more disconcerting then, is the suggestion that whatever ‘it’ is may well be lurking inside your guitar, waiting, perhaps, to catch you off guard before bursting forth and squeezing the hell out of you. Terrifying. But totally untrue, of course, so let me brew a cup of calming herbal tea and relax, for this is a band best enjoyed in a restful atmosphere.    

It Hugs Back are four lads from Maidstone who can count Huw Stephens and Rob Da Bank as their fans and call Maida Vale studios their second home, having recorded there three times. Friends since they were adolescent 12 year olds, the band was formed when they made the dutiful pilgrimage to university in London. Their original records were works of art, painstakingly hand-crafted and released on their own label, Safe & Sound (and if time-consuming art’s your bag – check out their video for ‘Now and Again’). And there’s nothing terrifying about the band at all. Their Wilco-esque songs are wistful forays into a dream-like sub-consciousness; sprinkles of electronica adorn low vocals, tinkly guitars form gentle melodies. They’re a warm, comforting quilt of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and youthful optimism which is quickly being embraced by the shoe-gazing populace (a 15 date European tour partially supporting Fucked Up – yeah, weird – sees them return to eight UK dates and a stint at Bestival). 

From Inside Your Guitar’s uplifting ‘Work Day’ to the soothing hand on your brow that is ‘Soon’, it quickly becomes apparent that what ‘It’ is is really something very wonderful indeed. 

Words: Rachel England