Dot Hacker’s debut album is an intriguing chunk of noise-rock. There’s a lot more rock than noise in most of these songs, but there is almost always some sort of swirling synth sound or electronic squall underpinning the more traditional guitar-bass-drums songwriting. And that songwriting is solid and professional throughout. Inhibition kicks when it’s supposed to, and lays back appropriately during the ballads. Considering that the band is made up of session musicians, it’s no surprise that the angular hard-rocking tracks fare better than the supposed-to-be-emotional slow songs. Guitarist/singer Josh Klinghoffer currently plays guitar for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Klinghoffer, guitarist Clint Walsh, and drummer Eric Gardner were all part of the Gnarls Barkley touring band. And they have the bassist from Hella, Jonathan Hischke, on board as well.
Klinghoffer’s airy, effeminate vocals combine with the band’s affection for noise to give Inhibition a spacey feel, even as Gardner and Hischke lock into complex grooves that propel the songs forward. The push/pull between the rhythm section and the vocals and keyboards on songs like “Idleidolidyll” and “Discotheque” make for an intriguing combination that doesn’t always come together into great songs. But Dot Hacker offers a lot of interesting twists on their basic formula throughout the album’s 10 songs, from the slinky spy noir of “The Earth Beneath” to the tense, piano-driven “The Wit of the Staircase.” It’s enough to make the album a mild recommendation for fans of Bloc Party or Metric.