In a time when going forward with a “The” band name can connote either a testament to band unity or some sort of adherence to rock tradition, going self-titled on the debut album is a bit of a risky move. For the most part, the label Trouble in Mind (which continues to burst with freshness and astound with their curatorial acumen) hosting them is all the intrigue the band needs. But in the insatiable quest for new and new old sounds, “The” bands can get crowded out. Kinda like bands with extra consonants or ones named after common inanimate objects. But somehow (partly that label, partly just clicking through) I arrived at this quietly triumphant album.
The Hecks are another promising band that endears without resorting to the lovable but overcrowded tradition of cresting. Song to song, their debut is passively conversational. It doesn’t crescendo for your attention, but the lucky ones will find the same sweet spot that this Chicago trio has obviously lighted on here, humming shortly and sweetly along. The hooks are outsized, but their homey, clipped presentation stops you short on your fanatical, RIYL tangents. The poppier tracks (which work on you in an oddball, Rick Wright fashion) are charmingly ensconced by lovely beds of drone. Both compel and entrance without ever exceeding the five-minute mark.
Yes, one’ll hear post-rock bells & whistles that they’ve encountered many times over. But as long as these types of angular progressions/scratchy textures have existed, there has been countless bands that’ve rudimentarily applied them. The Hecks are adept at not just giving you good vibes, but a lot of flowering character. The songs grow inside you like weeds, sturdy and imperceptible. You’re not grooving on the rhythms so much as on the group’s expert command of drift, repetition, and brevity. The vocals are somewhat nondescript, but imminently seviceable to the music. The intensity is compact, as is the mood, as is the song structure: It’s a car ride to nowhere kind of album. A make weird dances in the abandoned industrial park kind of album. An album burnt out but keenly focused. A good place to be before you’ve obliterated it with infinite context (gonna go crazy tryna place which 17 songs use that beat opening “Trust and Order”). And, as this reviewer can attest, a good place to be after.