Burning Down the Haus(u)

What do you get when you mix a cup full of Captured Tracks-esque post-punk revival with healthy dose of Pacific Northwest misanthropy and a splash of power pop? Portland’s own Hausu, who have been playing a steady run of house shows and basement parties for a few years. Their debut album Total drops June 25th on Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art (who I affectionately refer to as Sub-Sub Pop).

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I first saw Hausu twice in one weekend all the way back in January 2011. Back then they only had a handful of songs released including a self-released single called “The Haze” and an upcoming 7″ through a Portuguese label called LebensStrasse. At the time, their music was a hook filled, powerful blast of singalong shoegaze and punk, not too far removed from contemporaries like Beach Fossils or Naomi Punk. But on tracks like “Weaving Spiders” they displayed a complex sense of songwriting that transcended the East Coast centric state of lo-fi rock at the time. Disregarding the Cascadia flag on my wall and how much I love the Northwest, Hausu still have a somber, earthy mood about their music that makes it less reliant upon nostalgia and more evocative of the present-day melancholia that goes with living under overcast skies.

After those first few singles Hausu went eerily silent for a good 12 months, playing a few shows and hinting at a future LP. Total boasts 10 songs varying from the aforementioned hook-filled power pop to heavier, dissonant tracks like “Leaning Mess”, which recalls the post-hardcore sway of past Northwest underdogs Lync. Frontman Ben Funkhouser howls with a deep voice reminiscent of noted influence Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice, but even during quiet moments on the album he sounds distant, physically and emotionally. On the appropriately titled closer “Bleak” he promises “This will be the last time you hear of me” before the song explodes to a fitting climax. Elsewhere on “Chrysthanemum” the crunchy guitars coalesce into something like Women meets Dinosaur Jr. 

Total is a remarkably enjoyable listen from a wonderfully talented Pacific Northwest band that has taken their time to craft something beautiful and somber. Although you’ll start hearing Total blasting out of car windows as the hot weather turns hotter this summer, wait until the Autumn rain hits and the muffled sounds of “Gardenia” are pumping through every apartment wall in the Pacific Northwest.

Total is out 6/25 via Hardly Art.

-Adam

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