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A review of Love and Violence by The Hipsters

The Hipsters
Love and Violence

The Hipsters have been around for more than 30 years, but Love and Violence, their 12-track album self-released this summer, is technically their debut. They’ve been playing off and on through different lineups without a studio record since 1978, and according to their website, are now “professionals with jobs and haircuts.” But that seems a little misleading. Love and Violence is wacky, smart, fun music and far from square.

The weirdness on Love and Violence — and it is weird — isn’t pronounced in any instrumentation or production style. In fact, the sound is overwhelmingly clean and inoffensive, reminiscent of their “contemporaries” The Feelies.

Vocalist Reuben Sairs has a cool passion to his voice, like a drastically toned-down Fred Schneider or a less bratty Tom Verlaine. Like Schneider, there’s a bounce to Sairs’ singing. It’s the same sort of jangly vocal energy that gave such power to ’80s vocalists like Verlaine and Schneider, the sort of voice that makes you unsure whether they’re making a joke you don’t understand or making none at all.

“Finally Returning Home” or “Raise a Voice” are good places to start with The Hipsters. The guitar lines in those tunes, like everything on Love and Violence, are simple and un-showy; everything is mixed and produced without flamboyance, and there’s very little rebellion to the thing on the whole. But altogether, Love and Violence succeeds in its off-kilter charm because there’s nothing in it as simple and obvious as rebellion.

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