Album review: Alexander & the Grapes, Hyper Self

The St. Pete band presents a fine new sophomore LP.

click to enlarge Alexander & the Grapes - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
Alexander & the Grapes

Hyper Self — the follow-up to Alexander & the Grapes' 2012 debut full-length Hemispheres — finds the tentative melody-swept quartet with straightforward folk and indie rock tendencies evolved, hitting a looser and more confident stride after four years of playing and building chemistry together, and stretching their aesthetic into grittier realms of garage pop, vintage psychedelia and experimental rock. The consequence is a sophomore album that feels organic and exciting while at the same time calling on synthetic textures and tones amid the roiling instrumental passages.

The Charos brothers were clearly inspired by all the recordings they’ve overseen at their Yoko Phono home studio and applied these evolved production techniques to the dozen tracks on Hyper Sense, with highlights in the jangly reverbed distortion of set opener “Wake Up,” the whirly grinding ‘60s percs-washed headiness of “Heavy Days,” the resigned minor chord melodies driving “Settling” — which makes a lackadaisical ascent to screaming guitar solos — and the racing rocker that is “Major Meltdown.” All are brightened by Alexander’s sweetly melodic vocal quality, which can be beseeching, resigned, tender or plainly self-possessed. (Critics’ Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars)

The album hit the streets until May 6 via New Granada (CD) and the Charos' own Viva La Records! imprint (vinyl). Take a listen to lead-off track "Wake Up" below.

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