Hybrasil is a hard band to pin down. On the surface, they seem to be just another fun hippie jam band, but they seem to want to have much more going on beneath the surface of their music. Mixing simple ballads like “Keep Me Out of Trouble” with trippy political statements like “Semi-Automatic (For the People),” Hybrasil’s Friendly Destroyer seems indecisive about what it wants to say. But combined with the band’s obvious sense of humor and their delight in making music, Friendly Destroyer is a compelling, but uneven, listen.
The funky opening track “Aids, Poverty, War, the Fake Economy and Sports” is a plea to abandon the material obsessed culture. “I never met a man of power with something to offer me,” lead singer Christian McNeill speaks over the background music. The result is an interesting one, but bears no relation to later songs like the sincere acoustic “Go Out and Get It.” These two songs sound like they could be from two completely different bands. While neither are bad songs, the effect is a little perplexing.
Hybrasil’s political leanings, while intriguing, can get tiresome, such as on “Massive Breeder” which offers stories of a woman with 11 children, a man who was shot, and a man on life support. The meaning placed on these stories seems muddled, as if Hybrasil tried to hard to say something important without actually stating it.
Still, Hybrasil isn’t all seriousness, as featured by the weirdly fun “Monkey Feet.” The lyrics are mostly nonsensical, and just serve as a showcase for Hybrasil’s musical skills. Combined with their evident love for gentler songs, Friendly Destroyer is not bogged down in its social commentary.
Ultimately, though, Friendly Destroyer feels somewhat unsatisfying. Even though it has its highlights, it doesn’t even follow through on what it began to do. Experimentation is fine, but doesn’t always produce the best results musically. Hybrasil’s flaw seems to be that they can’t sustain the same level of appeal throughout the record, as it wanders over too much different territory to create a final impression. Hybrasil, unfortunately, misses whatever they intended Friendly Destroyer to do.