"'Smoke And Mirrors' is the second album from London based duo 'Hyde Out' released on 'Toxic Fumes Records'. It's tinged with creativism and intriguing melody throughout in a variety of musical styles gelled together to make something interesting and unique.
The opening track 'Alive' is an inviting uplifting piece which at first, sounds like a cross between Coldplay and XTC's 'Dear God'. Lyrically it's a clever storytelling piece which has twists and turns bound to keep the listener interested. The sizzling snare beat provides a subtle crescendo to the very catchy chorus. Accomplished soulful harmonies give the track deepness and follow the journey perfectly. A perfect opener to the album.
'Wide And Bright' starts off with infectious keys and punchy vocals, a catchy string-a-long vocal melody. Poetic words paint an artistic, vivid picture for the listener to enjoy alongside the contagious odyssey of this track. There's a memorable atmosphere about 'Wide And Bright'.
The 3rd track on the album 'Move It' has a deeper richer vocal which shows the vocalists versatility. It's a more modish/upbeat track than the previous two. It's a feel good track which would be welcomed at a summer poolside party. The funky keys and give it a real dance, and almost electro, vibe. 'Move it' does what it says on the tin, gets you to move it, whilst being supplied with a comfortable ambience to do so.
'Ode to J' has more of a folk feel with hints of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. There is a darker feel to the lyrical content of this song, moodier but cool, delivered in a professional manner. The swing beat and spanish-like guitar solo provide an intense middle 8, very tight. Has a Kinks feel with a modern attitude.
Then we're introduced to the semi-dramatic 'Welcome', which starts off with breathy-like vocals but then transported into musical-like storytelling. There's something a bit Queen-like about the track, probably the classic rock sounding guitar (and the odd shred), but it all pays ode to the song as a whole. Again we have Take That-like harmonies and backup vocals which compliment the narrative incredibly.
The title track 'Smoke And Mirrors' is poised with infectious guitar and an abstract bossa-nova type beat which brings a varied assortment to the collection. The best track of the album so far. Powerful vocal delivery makes this track epic along with the instrumentation. Energetic punchy rhythms buildup the piece and give this the blow it really needs. Similar vocal style to Gotye which is very effective.
'Make my day' is a pulsating indie/semi electro anthem with bright clear vocals and complimentary guitar. Chorus is full of power and this mid tempo piece. We have a skilled stadium guitar solo worthy of a huge live production. Traces of One Republic or Twenty One Pilots definitely. The trance hypnotic aesthetic of 'Make my day' really leave a memorable and adhesive impression.
Up next we have 'Fluent in silence', another folky dark tale. A good track to fall into after the industrious 'Make my day'. There's an intellect in the buildup, it turns from folk sounding to a disco beat, who would've thought you could do that?. Nevertheless, the chorus is the highlight of the song, I would imagine this would be great towards the end of a live performance. But it works great as track 8 on 'Smoke And Mirrors'. The wonderful slide guitars are almost country and pay a varied homage to the genre.
Then we start with a duo guitar off on 'Meadvale Road'. With creative palm muted and open chords at once. It starts with a reminiscence to Fleetwood Mac or Mumford and Sons with the bold bass drum, but then we're taken through a journey of pungent drum fills and different drums paces throughout the song which structure it perfectly and give it purpose. It's a progressive track and, again, the storytelling is imaginative and inventful.
The next track's guitar sound begins with a lofi Johnny Cash-feel to it. In 'Island sunshine' we're introduced to a neo americana/country vibe. Recollections of The Coral for this track definitely, especially the backing vocals, and "Penny Lane" is mentioned in the lyrics. The chorus sends the message of the song, and the block beat provides an adverse landscape for this. But musically it's everything else that really makes 'Island sunshine' the most addictive song on the album.
'Derelict' in an alluring campaign which opens with an almost Jeff Buckley guitar, bass and drum style. Then we have a heroic guitar line which is smooth, orchestrated and wouldn't be out of place on a Pink Floyd album. Vocals are abrasive and fearless. There's an auratic calmness throughout and there is an eclipse of emotion through the assonance expression. 'Derelict' gives nods up to the duo and their collaboration, this could easily be a full band composition with the amount of detail demonstrated in the fills and licks.
The final track of 'Smoke And Mirrors' is 'This looks like'. It's an off-kilter compared to its predecessor. A prediction of things to come in the future for 'Hyde Out'. Here we experience more hard-rock based guitar, but with a contemporary vocal sound, and noxious synths. This is the part of the movie we are attempting to figure out the twist. A very futuristic sounding conclusion to the collection which is very inviting.
Overall, 'Smoke And Mirrors' is a varied collection demonstrating musicabilty, catchy songwriting and diversity. Strong vocals and character, skilled musicianship. We're transported through subgenres and mood enhancing melodies and aesthetics. Production is very complimentary and every track is catered for specifically. Song craftsmanship and storytelling are highlights of the album and each song is like a chapter in a book.
'Smoke And Mirrors' tells a story of its own, of a band progressing through pop-like vocal harmonies and acoustic/ballad sounding ensembles to experimental guitar based progressive rock with hints of electronica. Well worthy of a focused thorough listen, expect a lot more from this talented London duo."
By Pretty Misery 3/12//2020