Settle Down in the Dirt (2021) by Hyness is a garage rock nostalgia trip. The five-piece delivers ten tracks of stripped down, grungy psych-rock. Sun-kissed ballads and crushing, fuzz-born anthems are reeled in by intuitive songwriting. Catchy hooks and ironic lyrics echo inner truths with utmost sincerity. Hyness takes a less subversive path than their influences, instead striving to tell relatable stories of conviction and promise. The album is well-played and conscious to keep listeners engaged while leaving room for playful experimentation.
Settle Down in the Dirt begins with the mid-paced, psych-rock gem, “Afterlife”. The track bleeds into a shimmering, sixties psych-pop song called “Cruelty”. A sludgy breakdown leads us into an eerie grunge banger before we are taken down a nineties, pop-rock rabbit hole. Carefully selected tones, textured vocal harmonies and pounding drums fill the space in a demonstratively elaborate way. Though simplicity is a marker of this record, emotional complexity is expressed throughout. The nervous tight-rope attempt that is “Foam” rides a surf-rock tide while retaining distinction. Purposeful feedback and warm, fuzzy chainsaw guitars guide listeners into a song about alienation and self-worth. The divine comedy of “Trash” takes us down the River Styx with floaters on. Just before we come to terms, “Mabelline” offers an escape into daydreams. Naturally, we take it. Even if we’ve never met a “Mabelline”. Tangled feedback marks the end of ends before we find ourselves in the comforting resolve of “Bedroom”. A shivering delay takes the last word but leaves us feeling warmer.