It Hugs Back comes off as a couple of whisper-voiced boys who've listened to their fair share of Belle and Sebastian and found some pals who can bust out a peppy mix of jangle-pop and folk-rock. They make songs that are strangely hushed despite their propulsive nature. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin rose to the top of this game on last year's Pershing, but It Hugs Back are clearly making a bid for king of the mountain with Inside Your Guitar. The group's first full-length is like a road trip full of speedy drives on bright pastoral highways and serene late-night stops where distant stars and insect hums are the only distractions. Songs like "Work Day," "Unaware" and "Now + Again," produce a sense of youthful optimism via bright hooks and excitable drumming, while tracks like "Q," "Soon" and "Rehearsal" play with halcyon atmospherics. Either way, the band is in command as it skillfully ties together pulsing chords and simple acoustic note picking with warm organ swells and blissed-out vocals. — Matt Whelihan
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