Is Stupider

by: Stove

Before launching Stove as his solo vehicle, Steve Hartlett spent six years fronting Newtown, Connecticut indie trio Ovlov, who officially called it quits in early 2015. Ovlov, who also featured Steve's two brothers Jon and Theo Hartlett, plied their trade with noisy, fuzz-marinated indie rock that unabashedly owed a debt to bands like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. Fortunately for Ovlov's fans, Hartlett had an entire album's worth of songs he'd written for their follow-up and he wasted little time in adapting them to the solo venture he'd named Stove, which, unsurprisingly, sounds quite a bit like its predecessor. With Hartlett covering all of the guitars, bass, and drums himself (the same basic instrumentation as before), Stove represents a sort of singular vision of where Ovlov might have gone had they righted the ship and kept things going. His 2015 debut, Is Stupider, is a weary, angry, and self-deprecating record that hides some very crafty parts and melodies under its crusty veneer. Chock-full of disenchanted epics of supreme slackery that dither between doleful self-doubt and wry humor, the album is saved from overall shabbiness by Hartlett's acumen for clever hooks and occasionally soaring tunes. Tracks like "Stupider" and "Wet Food" manage to come across as both sprawling and appealingly worn. Hartlett is at his best on the more world-weary tracks, like the jangly midtempo groove of standout cut "Lowt-Ide Fins." The fact that Is Stupider was recorded in a rapid-fire three-day session is a testament to Hartlett's talents, and he'll likely net plenty of fans from his former band. ~ Timothy Monger

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