On their second album Toronto’s ingenious pop band Hooded Fang are taking a big step back from the luxurious instrumentation and lyricism of their previous work. Firstly some instruments, and consequently members of the band, have been removed from the equation: gone are the horns, accordion and glockenspiel. Second phase: the clean, bright production of the first album has disappeared, replaced by a lo-fi cocoon just so it sounds like any record from Thee Oh Sees. Finally, they’ve lowered their musical ambitions to average garage-pop singles (‘Brahma’, ‘Vacationation’) and unworthy surf-rock tunes (‘Clap’, ‘ESP’). If putting guitars and drums in the foreground seems like a good way to energize songs, they fall short on hooks, on diversity and slip from your mind soon as they end. There’s nothing really bad here, yet nor is there anything particularly memorable.
Lead singer Daniel Lee is no longer counter-balanced by the beautiful female voice of Lorna Wright but more importantly, he doesn’t seem to put any effort in his lyrics. Even when you like simplicity and straight-forward pop, words like ‘Baby baby can’t you see what it is that you mean to me’ are hard not to laugh at. The album is also divided by three musical transitions of thirty seconds called ‘Big Blue I,II and III’, rather inconsistent (it’s the same creepy theatre melody on each one) and not doing anything for the coherence of the album. In this decade, there are already enough bands trying to make that same nostalgic, easy ’60s garage band pastiche. In the middle of these dozens of lo-fi summery pop acts, Hooded Fang don’t bring anything fresh or exciting to hold on to, they just blindly follow the recipe. Tosta Mista is, strangely, less mature than its predecessor, as the band turns its back on the Canadian joyful baroque pop style that made them valuable in the first place, to embrace an american underground pop genre that they don’t even belong to.