Columbus post-punk band hidden places’ latest album, the circle is not round, is heavier and punkier than the trio’s previous work. Released on December 6, the album features eight percussive tracks and is just over 25 minutes long, showcasing dry vocals, driving percussion and low bass lines.
hidden places’ the circle is not round features all of the hallmarks of a classic indie rock album: frontman David Fuller’s vocals are dry, somewhere close to speak-singing, but his voice is balanced well with driving percussion from Matt McCroskey and deep, resonant bass melodies. McCroskey’s drums are crisp and well-balanced, rounding out each track’s metallic, jewel-toned guitar licks.
Some songs feel almost frenetic, with wailing vocals and tight drums (“separator,” one of two singles) while others come more slowly (“mundanity”). Still others lean grungy and low, with rich instrumentals (“in stasis”), and others are eerie, saturated with sheer exhaustion (“mood ring”). All feature an excellent blend of bass, guitar and drums, though, and all blend indie rock with post-punk in varying proportions to create mesmerizing, mature tracks.
But arguably one of the album’s best tracks comes only second; “baby tracy” begins sparsely, with low bass lines and guitar, but builds to a grander sound as Fuller sings rhythmically. It’s a clean track; the bass picking is deft and the chorus almost feels like a chant (“Too true, never meant to put you down/The circle isn’t always round”), and the guitar’s clear tones round out the song well. Yet even though the song feels energizing and catchy, there’s something eerie in Fuller’s dry vocal tone that makes the track both haunting and irresistible.
The second of two contenders for best song on the album arrives at the end of the circle is not round: while “baskin 3” is dripping with angst (“My pen newly wet/If pen ink were regret”), it is also rhythmic, featuring driving bass and sticky vocal melodies and heavier drums. The track provides a stunning end to the album, and its grungy guitar chords seem to echo long after the song ends.
the circle is not round is a stunning follow-up to uh’s, and though their new music feels a little heavier, hidden places has lost none of their characteristic angst and punky indie rock sound. Listen to the circle is not round on Bandcamp below.