Album review: Husbands – Achin' 

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Despite living over a thousand miles apart, Wil Norton and Danny Davis — the minds behind OKC/D.C. duo Husbands — are always on the same page. That’s no simple feat. Not when writing and recording your songs patchwork-style via email. Not when rarely in the same room.

They’d be excused for building Frankenstein-like indie-pop jams that stagger along with a clubfoot, an uneven stare and blotted skin, but these ethereal little bursts of wild wonder and unbridled enthusiasm are airtight. Thanks to that, their EP Achin’ never sinks or bobbles, not once in its joyous voyage out to the edge of the earth — a siren song pulling you into a sun-soaked paradise.

To call Achin’ Husbands’ Merriweather Post Pavilion or All Hour Cymbals wouldn’t be misguided, but Norton and Davis bring a lot more to the plate than effective Animal Collective and Yeasayer impersonations. This has character of its very own, breathing and thriving even outside the context of that scene of inventive indie-poppers. That’s an earned triumph, one that so often eludes young bands throwing their hat into that ring, failing to reach equal heights on the bars of experimental exuberance and fan-friendly hooks.

To achieve that over a number of years would be impressive enough, but Husbands have been wildly prolific since they first peeked their heads from outside the covers last year with a string of singles in consecutive weeks and a Christmas album to cap the year off. 2014 has been quieter leading up to Achin’, — highlighted by stylized title track “Aikin” — but the work shows.

Husbands’ sound and approach is an immersive one. And as brightly as 2013’s singles shined, the material presented here is more captivating and engrossing than ever. There’s an attention to the details that gets glanced over in similarly exotic investigations to the most primal state of indie pop. But despite the telephone game applied to the creation these lo-fi sound collages, nothing is glossed over. “Aikin” and “TarBB” satisfy your gut, head and hips to equal measure: plenty to look at, plenty to think about and plenty to move you.

Chaining a shoehorned shoegaze guitar line to a sweetly sincere chorus in “Bois,” Husbands especially hone in on something wholly unique to them: that marriage of rich, full emotion and lively whimsicality. “Bets,” too, is growth, bringing the nuance to its tribal rhythms and bubbly synthesizer washes that Terrence Malick would bring to a Donkey Kong biopic he was directing. There’s a funky spirit to it all, but it’s wistful, sweet and ethereal.

“Marley” is the most expected take, gently imbuing the reggae tones and afrobeat rhythms so frequently co-opted in 2008. But it’s thorough and charming enough to succeed all the same, a relative weak spot that would be a highlight on most other records.

That’s a testament to the strength of Achin’, an energizing collection of songs that are certainly some of the very best native Oklahomans have produced all year — and maybe even outside of that, borders and distance be damned.

Print headline: Musical matrimony

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Joshua Boydston

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