Hardcore Crayons are an instrumental trio from Minneapolis. Zozzled, their dpg debut & 3rd full length, showcases the band’s unique blend of math and post rock intertwined with elements of jazz & dub. It’s heavier and more layered than past releases due to a greater usage of guitar loops, keyboards, and noise elements. Dan Chizek’s atonal looping bursts on guitar combined with his delay drenched yelps act more like a 4th instrument than melody. Jake Kirkman’s drumming is schooled in jazz & bassist Dominic Hanft is the heavy bottom end that ties it all together. Local sax stalwart, Mike Lewis (Bon Iver/Andrew Bird), makes a guest appearance on several tracks & adds a skronk element to the mix.
The album as a whole ebbs and flows through various tones & moods, often blurred to the point of wondering where one song ends and the other begins. Opener srsly begins with a repetitive twitch that gives way to a driving, yelping pace only to stop in its tracks with a spaced out dub breakdown before ending in a flurry. Tracks like the mathy title track Zozzled and the heavy, polyrhythmic More Sugar progress and devolve, often at the same time, with the song rarely ending where it began. The band can also play it straight(er) as well on tracks like Daddy Issues and WGYW, the first single on the album featuring a video that might have been Fincher’s vision of Fight Club in a more loving, PG world.
All in all, Zozzled is a carefully crafted instrumental album that will keep you guessing.
Hardcore Crayons show themselves to be one of the more creative & skilled young bands to emerge recently. The end result is challenging and rewarding, melodic and dissonant, innovative yet familiar.