One tiny leap with one foot in the 1990s.
This trio have a sound charged with energy and tension, full of ecstatic stop starts, with glorious bubbling bass and fuzzy guitar. It’s not a new sound -- more an update on a certain no-nonsense '90s aesthetic -- but enough time has passed that it is again crisp, hooky, and never less than melodic. The brick-wall changes and quasi-speed thrash aesthetic are contained within a production that is cleverly honed and smoothed rather than being left abrasive, sloppy and raw. I like that, but would prefer the somewhat agonized vocals to be clearer, as sometimes only the occasional word or phrase is decipherable.
While the tracks I like best at this point are “Probe”, “Blood From a Loyal Hound” and “Spank Jail”, the album has a coherence which means they are all winners. If these songs were boxers they would be crafty, quick, restless movers without an ounce of fat on them, not looking to knock you out so much as to relentlessly jab you into submission. Not a giant leap for mankind, then, but Two Inch Astronaut appear to mean business and this a very solid step in the right direction. The striking album art is by Hideyuki Katsumata.