“When you push, I draw back / Then you hide and I want more.”
In the new Hoop album Super Genuine, this line from “Folded Impulse,” featuring Allyson Foster, describes the inverse relationship between two people. When one person does something, it provokes the opposite reaction in the other. To illustrate the point, Foster and Caitlin Roberts, the band’s frontwoman, sing a soft call-and-response, both their voices quiet and delicate.
While many of the most emotionally vulnerable albums mine the artist’s inner thoughts and feelings, Super Genuine remains mostly outward-facing. Like in “Folded Impulse,” it examines the relationships between various points—friends, lovers, family. Hoop, which began as a duo in a small town in Washington, has slowly transformed into a quartet that grew out of Roberts’ new home in Seattle—called the “Womb Room”—with housemates-turned-bandmates Leena Joshi and Pamela Santiago (Inge Chiles joined later). The first album they've made together reflects the closeness that comes from sharing a space and, as the name of that space hints at, feminist sensibilities.
Throughout Super Genuine, Hoop explores vulnerability through connections with others. In the opener, “Marlin Spike,” Roberts sings, “You hate to tell me you’re scared to lose me / You hate to tell me you really need me” in a quiet song about falling for one who won’t open up. In “Skiptracer,” Hoop offers support and counsel to an addressee named Michael, who is similarly inhibited. “Surrender yourself,” she sings, “And at the same time explore yourself.” At other times, Hoop is happy in the face of love. In “Good Dregs,” she sings, “It's the right time to learn something new / To learn new ways to love you.” In “Baseboard” (featuring Briana Marela), Hoop is defiant, proclaiming that there are limits to what she can give without return. “I’m not here to please you,” she sings. “Nothing can make me stay.”
Even when strong and defiant, though, Hoop sings in an ethereal, childlike voice. Most of the time, this emphasizes the emotional potency of the music. In combination with simple guitar patterns, it occasionally sounds thin—lacking the grounding that Hoop has in their lyrics. True to the legacy of their location, the band also plays with a heavier, grungier sound at times. “To Know Your Tone” (featuring Allyson Foster), “Drawn To You,” and “Send Purpose Down” all feature fuzzier guitars that comprise a full, shoegazey style. Elsewhere, Hoop fills in their sound with layers of harmony, beat loops, and shimmery synths.
Among more common contemporary genre markers on their Bandcamp page, such as “pop” and “alternative,” Hoop lists “feelings.” Though the songs are light and melodic, that dimension of Super Genuine does require some effort on the part of the listener. Hoop doesn’t just confront the subjects of their songs, they also address the audience. Ultimately, though, the album is cathartic. It is, as they say in the optimistic glow of the final song, “Bask In Easy Tone,” “water to wash [our] hands.”