Videohippos - Unbeast The Leash
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Unbeast The Leash

Videohippos are a two-piece group from the same Baltimore, Maryland-based Wham City collective as Dan Deacon, Ecstatic Sunshine, and Ponytail. The two fellows in the band play a noisy racket of electronic-laced pop music that's at times spazzy and almost happy hardcore, while at other times pushes into a darker, almost post punk realm that gives Unbeast The Leash a much more rounded feel. The group seems to know that too much sugar makes your teeth hurt, but even the more foreboding songs have a great sense of energy that implies that if they're going down, they might as well do so swinging.

Another great thing about the group is that there are just two members, but they sound like a heck of a lot more than that most of the time. Kevin O'Meare plays drums, but also sings and triggers samples, while Jim Triplett plays guitars, keyboards, and sings lead. "Toothsub" kicks off the release and is somewhere in the middle in terms of emotional feel, as hyper-fuzzed guitars wail alongside a light keyboard melody and hammering drums. The vocals themselves are nearly completely monotone, though, giving the otherwise electro pop punk track a more grounded feel.

"The List" is similar, with a couple layers of buzzing synths and some quiet background guitars are again somewhat mellowed with more subdued vocal harmonies from the two members. In other places, things veer over to the more spazzy side of things, and on the aptly-titled tracks "Kool Shade" and "Sick Dolphin," they let loose with a more bizarre blast of effects, with the latter going completely nuts as 8-bit keyboard blasts and high-pitched feedback bursts spray out over muffled drums.

The group is at their best on somewhat more downcast songs like "Downfall" and "Lazer Jet," showing off some great pop skills that find them mixing sparse but driving rhythms with nicely melodic (and gorgeously textured on the latter) guitar lines and just enough vocals to add a human side. On the album, thirteen songs blur by in under thirty minutes, so one could never accuse the duo of letting things go on for too long. With so many similar-sounding short tracks slamming right up against one another, it could be argued that a little more variety wouldn't hurt, but there's something to be said for blowing the doors off and getting the heck out quickly as well.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2007-06-28 19:52:49