Two Inch Astronaut - Foulbrood (2014), 8/10

Foulbrood signals a shift in the band's trajectory from post-hardcore to what ultimately resembles indie pop rock. While I prefer the raw emotional soul-bearing of Bad Brother and its punk aesthetics, Foulbrood is still a formidable follow-up and has its own identity as a powerful yet impressively accessible rock album despite its complexity. The short-form breakdowns in "Type Four", for instance, are some of the most satisfying moments from any of their works yet serve as embellishments for a highly infectious and easily identifiable chorus. These combine to great effect, resulting in one of the most effective and memorable songs on the album. Yet more straightforward songs like “Cigarettes, Boys, and Movies” that serve as a vehicle for personal narrative are surprisingly equally successful, perhaps due to an inclusion of some passing complexity and haunting, ominous flirtations with nuanced rhythm and dark chord structures. As with Bad Brother, Two Inch Astronaut as a band explore a stunning amount of ideas in their interplay, each song contains a flooring amount of rhythm changes, chord patterns, dynamic experimentation and breakdowns. Perhaps it is an overly personal album, and the band as an extension has a very singular delivery that will heavily influence individual favor one way or the other, but I can’t escape their powerful emotional outpouring and will perhaps forever be under the spell of their collective voice. Sam’s guitar work is as electric and slashy as ever, while Pouridas and Gatwood provide a rhythm section clearly at the forefront of composition side by side with their leading man. The only real criticism I can produce is that when approaching the album from an academic lens, it sometimes uses simple dynamics to further its effectiveness, or attempts to rely on complexity as a vehicle for momentum. These are extraneous critiques, however, not relevant to its efficacy as a listening experience. The simple poignancy of a song like “No Feelings” is too powerful to ignore and this emotive power makes Foulbrood one of the best indie releases you will find.