While it’s true that absurdly long, convoluted band names have become a bit tiresome and passé these days, it’s always refreshing to come across one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Bloomington, Indiana’s Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt is a great example of a band whose tongue-in-cheek moniker adds some levity to their otherwise pretty impactful music.
HiaHC is the stage name of a solo musician who, even after releasing two full-length studio albums, has ostensibly managed to remain completely anonymous (at least according to what might well be the most bizarre, half-assed Wikipedia page I’ve ever come across.) Tweaker Two, the latter of those albums, is a work that’s dripping with a strangely beautiful combination of nostalgia and world-weary resignation.
Catchy and steeped in a healthy dose of lo-fi fuzz, HiaHC is clearly a student of the Elliott Smith/Lou Barlow/Stephen Malkmus school of lackadaisical songwriting. But despite this sloppy facade, Tweaker Two’s instrumentals are extremely tight and well-structured, belying an endearing attention to detail. While it’s rough around the edges, it’s apparent that the flaws are purposeful.
The vocals are pretty much your standard undercooked indie fare, and occasionally bring to mind early Built to Spill (albeit a little more growly, and without the childlike naiveté of There’s Nothing Wrong With Love). His voice cements the album’s straightforward approachability, which is perhaps what makes it stand out among its peers. Like so many of its forebears, HiaHC is down to earth, doesn’t mince words, and seems to be writing the music as much for himself as for the listener. With most of the lyrics addressed to a third party, listening to Tweaker Two feels like overhearing a series of (often confrontational) conversations between friends.
All in all, Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt is probably best enjoyed on a hazy, lazy summer afternoon. Like so many cassette tapes and square-tail skateboards, the languid sounds of crunchy, reverb-heavy guitars and slightly off-key vocals will take you right back to the lo-fi heyday of the early nineties. I personally found myself recalling a simpler time of backyard barbecues, little league, and, most importantly, a firm belief that nothing too bad was ever going to happen.
But Tweaker Two is certainly not all saccharine and sentimental. The album does a great job of tackling the frustration that’s shared by all of us who have reluctantly abandoned the comforts of childhood. The stylistic callbacks invite us to reminisce, but the lyrics suggest an awareness that whatever innocence we’ve lost since the good old days is gone for good.
Sure, it’s not hopeless. “Really,” a song towards the end of the album, seeks solace in romance, declaring with the characteristic passivity of a modern gentleman, “I wouldn’t mind your company tonight / There’s other ones / But know that I / I really want you tonight.” There’s even an air of adolescent puppy love to the whole thing, but it simply can’t measure up to that forgotten sense of youthful credulity. No matter how hard you try, you can’t go home again.
Then again, maybe I’m just projecting. If that’s the case, I’ll leave you with this: Tweaker Two is a hell of an album, and Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt deserves your attention. I even hear he has a new tape (literally) coming out this spring on Already Dead Tapes & Records. Give this guy a listen.