I’m fond of a really good psych album. One that has direction, drive and hooks I can really get my teeth into. You can imagine my delight when the latest album from LA psych rockers Hooveriii dropped into my inbox. Pronounced Hoover Three, the band was created by founder Bert Hoover. Hooveriii has grown to include Gabe Flores (lead guitar and vocals), Kaz Mirblouk (bass and synths), James Novick (synths), and Owen Barrett (drums). Hoover describes A Round of Applause as the bands pop record. I’ll let him explain further.
“I am not really a playlist guy or a singles guy, I’m really into the album experience.
So yeah, we made a pop record. But also, to me, this record is very progressive as well, and I think that that provides a nice balance.”
Psych Pop sounds right up my street so let’s dive in and see what the album has to offer.
We open on the sunny and exuberant ‘See’. A track that comes with bonus spring in its step. This optimism comes bounding out the speakers that you can’t help but be swept up in. There’s some nimble bass work on show working hand in hand with the groove the drums are laying down. A song of two halves ‘See’ evolves into this edgy and frenetic freakout which each time I listen it makes me want to jump about the room like a man possessed. This is how you open a record. Check out the fun video that accompanies this track.
We segue into the cacophonous intro to ‘Out Of My Time’. I love the build of tension over the verses that builds and builds keeping our attention firmly focused. The key guitar riff played throughout is deceptively simple but oh so important as it’s the foundation the band build this amazing soundscape on. Check out how the song unfolds in its second half. All members completely in simpatico giving everything to the music. It’s a joy to behold.
‘Water Lily’ is this double time wig out that revolves around a central guitar lick that slowly blossoms into this prog like vocal melody. This song just won’t sit still for a moment, seeming to scream KEEP UP to the listener. If you aren’t breathless by the end then I envy your constitution.
‘Twisted & Vile’ has the coolest intro on the album for sure. Bursting out the gates with that joyous abandon we’re slowly enjoying getting used to. The rhythm section is on fire throughout, bass filling gaps with these flourishes that have you punching the air. The lead guitar tracks the vocal melody adding a serpentine quality making it all appear effortless. Hoovers vocal is as always smooth and slickly delivered making him instantly likeable.
The band switch up their tack for ‘Time’. Channelling The Small Faces and amping up their attack to the max. Painting time as “the famous outlaw” Hoover tells us a tale set to the paisley patterned backdrop of soaring guitars and a pulsing backbeat. Do yourself a favour and really tune in to the drums on this one. The shuffle on the verses is just divine.
This leads us into my album highlight. The stomping sound of ‘My Directive’. Drums lead us in as the band slowly file in to take their place on the soundstage. That really appeals to my musical sensibilities. It’s over a minute before Hoover bursts in with the title refrain. By that time, we are taken by surprise and, in turn, conquered by the hook. Meantime the guitars have gone walking about creating this tight ass groove that opens up on the vocal lines to great effect. I literally could talk about this song alone for the whole review.
We head into the English folk/ heavy rock sound of ‘Stone Men’ next. The howling guitars bring to mind the winds across the moors at midnight. Before the sounds of battle in the morning drowns everything else out. There are a few Sabbath-like moments pleasing my ear no end but it’s those guitars that’ll stay with you. Utterly haunting.
‘Iguana’ really threw me for a loop. It amps up the sound of early Orange Juice not just in the stabbing and simplistic guitar lines but also in the affected vocal attack. This track should be called chameleon as this band can absorb pretty much any influence and present their unique take on it. This is no cheap pastiche or parlour shop trickery though. Let’s be clear here. Hooveriii are incredibly adept at creating their own sound from advancing the sonics of their musical predecessors. When the screeching saxophones come in on the closing notes it just seals it all up nicely. What a breath of fresh air.
‘The Runner’ is another pacey number complementing the song title perfectly. The harmonising lead guitars opening and setting the scene for the vocals to come in chanting the title refrain. The guitars and vocals do this nice call and response thing which really catches the ear. In the closing section it’s the bass that seems to countdown to the end of the song like a harbinger. Damn cool!
Next up is jam based around a couple of key riffs. In ‘Cruisin’ the band keep our attention laser focused by slowly moving the melody forward with an extra lick here an organ motif there. It’s quite subdued compared to what’s come before perhaps to prepare us for the end of the album. Whilst it may be more contemplative it’s no less engaging and enjoyable for it.
We close out the album on the ‘The Pearl’. The lyrics suggest this is a musical retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale. It’s a balladlike, lighters in the air kinda track all played with a knowing wink. This is a band having fun and including us, the listener, in that fun. What a great way to sign off.
With A Round of Applause Hooveriii have created a psych pop odyssey that grabs you from song one and doesn’t let go until its very final note. They’ve carefully balanced the out-there aspects of psych rock with the more familiar pop tropes in a really clever way. The way the album has been track listed with the utmost care really comes across too. This was my introduction to the band, and it’s made me really curious to explore their back catalogue and keep an eye out for future releases. Album of the year? I’d say we have a contender on our hands.
You can follow Hooveriii on social media here…
Header Photo by Alex Bulli