Psychedelia and shoegaze are oddly antagonistic genres; both often slide into the hazey, mentally and sonically, but one tries to surround you with its warm fug while the other one retreats away into self-involvement. Toronto’s Hoa Hoas strike a nice balance between the two on Sonic Bloom, with the like of “Circles” and “New Love II” being just a churning and murky as any post-ride band even as the sprightly “Bottles” and “Yellow Jacket” could have come from an unheralded post-British Invasion beat combo. But the band don’t play their songs as a series of genre pastiches; it all sounds like the work of the same outfit, one enamored of a certain kind of bleary, melodic sound and willing to take just about any path to get there.
The result, in a slightly overstuffed debut, is to dilute the impact of the very best moments here a bit (“Out of This World… Man 3” is particularly striking) but again this comes across as more youthful enthusiasm than anything else. Trim a couple of the less distinguished tracks to get down to fifty minutes or so and you’ve got one of the finer recent psychedelic albums, one not afraid to rely on the music rather than the listener’s chemical state to get you high.