From the first few seconds of Hovvdy’s third album, Heavy Lifter, the band makes clear that the listener is in for a nostalgic but melancholy ride. The chords supporting opener “1999” feel weighted, leaning into minor territory, leaving the feeling of a punch to the gut. It’s a low way to start an album that does have its happier moments—in fact, the following track, “Mr. Lee,” drives toward such moments immediately, feeling like a moment plucked from a strictly cheery time.
Throughout Heavy Lifter, there’s a strong emphasis on examining your surroundings, like on “Cathedral,” which focuses on watching another’s method of worship. Perhaps it is easier to submerge into the depths of others’ heads, rather than live within yours. The lyric, “Maybe never come back here / we could stay with our friends,” suggests an urge to escape to a private sanctuary, leaving one cathedral in awe, in hopes to find a permanent vacant space of one’s own.
Hovvdy excels in slow, melancholic ballads, constantly landing somewhere between Elliott Smith and The Microphones. Their songs heavily reflect on post-shoegaze results, opting for a sadder, more dreary tone on tracks like “Feel Tall.” The moments of joy on Heavy Lifter carry a pinch of sarcasm too, almost poking fun at the idea of making strictly happy music. But the songs carry good intentions—“TellmeI’masinger” is a charming, Fisher-Price toy keyboard-infused ode to a constant craving of human approval.
Given that so much of Heavy Lifter feels, well, heavy and reminiscent of the harder to swallow parts of life, it makes sense that both of the band’s founders, Charlie Martin and Will Taylor, hail from Texas—a state large enough to feel like its own planet, which can create its own feelings of isolation. (Also, they’re called Hovvdy, so there’s that.) Martin and Taylor’s vision blends together on this record, creating moments to take safety in from a vast, never-ending space. Their songs provide solace from fear, and an opportunity to reflect and turn inward, to turn the focus onto the light.