Review! - West Coast Performer

If one had to pigeonhole the up-and-coming Oakland trio HIJK (formerly known as Hijack the Disco) into a genre, math rock would come to mind; but the group delves into so many other artsy realms that it's truly impossible to limit them to just one. The songs on HIJK's full-length debut, The Pen and the Letter, seem to flow effortlessly together like a well-planned symphony, but add a few unexpected clashes of sound to keep listeners on their toes at all times. Tracks such as "Hey Sleepy Smile" showcase the band's ability to create peaceful, breathy tunes, whereas many of their other songs highlight their usage of dance-synth, angst-fueled guitar riffs, prog tempos and powerful, dueling melodies. In addition to the conventional musical instruments that most current groups employ, HIJK also finds creative ways to add splashes of viola, accordion and trumpet without overpowering their intricate lyrics. Though the band's sound might be reminiscent of early Pinback and Texas Is the Reason, their latest effort truly defines their own unique niche in the indie music world. Vocalists Mike Mahony and Dave Tsui engrave their distinct warblings cautiously and methodically into every song, while drummer Trevor Wencl seems to inflect his crashing drums at random points, somehow making the unexpected also seem carefully planned. HIJK may not be ready for the profit-driven world of mainstream rock, but they seem pretty intent on taking the indie world by storm for the time being. (Self-released) -Katie Burnett Performer Mag Website

Katie Burnett