HTRK - Rhinestones

  • A skeletal and barebones approach makes the Australian duo's music all the more intimate.
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  • Through their illustrious 18-year career, HTRK have gracefully captured the uneasiness of intimacy. Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang's languid, wee-hours reflections have only grown more intense and more specific with each new release. Listening to the duo's musings can feel like sitting in on a secret club you're not meant to be a part of, and their past records exuded a deep, confessional introspection, like a candle-lit ritual. Rhinestones is a skeletal, mostly acoustic continuation of this sound, gripping in its own mysterious, quiet way. The duo's latest is a cosmic sound bath, with each strummed string shimmering and fading like ripples on the surface of water. Rhinestones has the sensual whisper of Mazzy Star and the grainy ambience of Windy & Carl. Standish's serenades are beautiful, obsessive and sometimes unsettling—"I can make you glitter / I can make you feel glitter than this," she sings on "Kiss Kiss And Rhinestones," adding to a wider surrealist tone. Less eerie—and perhaps less melancholy—than their last full length, 2019's Venus In Leo, there's a kind of hope in the angst here. It's hidden in the haunting melodies, particularly in the surprising playfulness of "Fast Friend," where Standish sings, "Let's just do something for fun / It's the way I think about it." There's a spontaneous feeling to these sketch-like songs. It's a raw, honest approach from a band who already laid everything bare, and only becomes more poignant on Rhinestones. Take how the subaquatic bass of "Siren Song" acts like an instant hook, before the band takes it away as quickly as it began. Or how "Straight To Hell" wraps everything in a single heavily delayed guitar loop, Standish vocal's cloaked and barely above a whisper. This is the genius of HTRK's lonesome, barebones and often witty signature sound: it's both extremely specific and universal, with a dark and cinematic beauty that becomes clearer with every listen, as Standish and Yang pull you into the void with them.
  • Tracklist
      01. Kiss Kiss And Rhinestones 02. Valentina 03. Sunlight Feels Like Bee Stings 04. Siren Song 05. Fast Friend 06. Real Headfuck 07. Reverse Déjà Vu 08. Straight To Hell 09. Gilbert And George