Inner Space

The ideas and anxieties of Noel Heroux spill forth in Hooray for Earth's ambitious debut

For a first album, True Loves has a massive sound, like the score to an epic blockbuster movie about an intergalactic something or other. It's a fitting debut for the New York City band Hooray for Earth. But it turns out this 10-song saga of space pop — with its laser-stringed guitars, thunder drums, and vaporous boy-girl vocals — wasn't laid down in some high-tech studio or even on some distant planet by a master race of indie-rock architects. It was recorded in a small Brooklyn loft by mostly one guy tinkering with the planet of sounds in his head.

"It sounds like what happens when I lock myself in a room for a month and record a bunch of songs," says frontman Noel Heroux. "My only intention was to make large-sounding, massive bangers of emotionally charged pop-type music. To me, it sounds like a lot of anxiety and a million ideas in my head all at once."

Heroux recorded and produced 90 percent of True Loves by himself for five weeks during the summer of 2010, playing guitar, synthesizer, bass, drums, and all the male voices you hear on the album. Hooray for Earth's other members — bassist Christopher Principe, guitarist and synth player Gary Benacquista, and drummer Joseph Ciampini — helped flesh out the rest of the sounds. The result is a big pop record, but one distinctly woven with a wonderfully messy nebula of weird guitar sounds, bleeping electronics, and ethereal chanting.

"There are a lot of people that grasp at it in an entirely different way than I expected," says Heroux. "There are comparisons to bands like Yeasayer and MGMT, and that's something that caught me off-guard. Obviously, I've heard those bands before because, um, I'm alive. But it's not something I listen to, so it's always surprising to see something you've done with one idea in your head and have it categorized in a way you didn't expect."

Like Passion Pit, Animal Collective, and, yes, Yeasayer and MGMT, Hooray for Earth stuff so many cut, pasted, looped, and distorted sounds into their songs that fans often have a hard time picking out what's going on. Because of this, Hooray for Earth have been called a synth-pop band. It's a description that puzzles Heroux. He says there really aren't that many synths on the record; it's mostly guitar-driven. But all of those chords and riffs are hidden in a storm of vocal layering, clever samples, and production fuzz.

"I like to make sounds that don't sound like any specific thing," says Heroux. "Not to be a huge dork, but the word 'synth' just means synthesized. These are all just synthesized sounds, so I guess that would be true. But really, I just edit things until they sound like something else."

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