Two Inch Astronaut may have recorded as a two-piece, but Foulbrood sounds like a fully realized indie rock four-piece, down to shared guitars, casual pop harmonies, and the zany drumming of Matt Gatwood. (Live, they perform with a larger ensemble, notably with Grass Is Green guitarist Andy Chervenak playing bass.) Due to their short history and notable influence, most music press have focused on how they’re comparable to the ’90s scene from Dischord Records. Those familiar with 2013’s Bad Brother already know they straddle the line between the sounds of DC post-hardcore and ’90s indie rock; on Foulbrood, Two Inch Astronaut take it to another level and begin to sound mostly like themselves on a record worthy of anyone’s collection.
Drawing heavy influence from near-hometown bands like Fugazi and Q and Not U, their style isn’t derivative so much as a next step from the scene that birthed them. Ultimately, that’s just a complex way of saying Foulbrood fits comfortably under the guise of post-hardcore the way The Jesus Lizard might have envisioned it instead of the way Warped tour does. Unlike most similar bands, Two Inch Astronut’s best moments often come from the quiet between the waves of distortion, such as the beautiful outro to the title track.
“Foulbrood” and the tracks that follow it are packed with deceptively complex, memorable melodies. “Type Four” pairs Moneen-esque guitar work with a plain-stated melody until the chorus shouts a sound mostly comparable only to other Exploding in Sound Records bands. But descriptors like “Speedy Ortiz with a male vocalist,” or “a faster Ovlov” wouldn’t do their originality justice. Other tracks, like “No Feelings” and “Black Moon Nightstick”, come on like a pissed-off Elliott Smith; in the former’s early verses, the ting-ting-ting of the bell closing every measure stars, but by the end, the rage in guitarist/vocalist Sam Rosenberg’s powerful shout handles the spotlight.
The album’s final stretch features less dynamic changes, so songs like “1, 2, Talk” don’t stand up as well on repeat listens, but that hardly dampens the album experience. Foulbrood flows seamlessly, “Black Moon Nightstick” arriving as the only natural conclusion. That song features the melody most prominently Smith-like, but its cathartic conclusion is so definitive it would be nearly impossible to follow.
Two Inch Astronaut’s music splits the difference between an angry Elliott Smith and an angelic The Jesus and Mary Chain, but their heaviness prevent any confusion with the pop sensibilities of Heatmiser. Two Inch Astronaut have begun to carve out their own fan base throughout the northeast, and it’s no surprise — Foulbrood holds its own in a crowded scene.
Essential Tracks: “Foulbrood”, “No Feelings”, and “Black Moon Nightstick”