What kind of world do we live in when we can use the phrase “post-Animal Collective” with straight-faces intact? And how indicative of the modern anathema that is hipsterdom to keep said face when claiming to cast aside AnCo as even an influence to maintain scare quoted “authenticity.” That describes the situation created when mentioning Gauntlet Hair, a band with a memorably poor name and hazy, post-‘00s reverb fetishism harkening back to the musicological depths of Strawberry Jam but with Roland VDrums in place of samplers and cassette quality over 2-track and Minidisc. Now on the Dead Oceans roster (the people responsible for Rise Above and many a Phosphorescent LP), the band sees the release of their self-titled effort, an album of songs arguably indebted to the modern enfant terrible of post-AnCo antics (and post-Merriweather sonic influence). Still proudly wearing a badge of indelible debt, the songwriting marks their difference and entrance into a pop-based mindset over one focused on pure layering and jerky experimentation.

Phrasing marks each singer’s style, that has been known for as long as the human voice has been composed for. Combined with the relatively modern emphasis on extended timbres and vocal techniques (L’s GA is less than 100 years old), the era of screams has been going on for at least a decade and a half. What changes relatively similar voices, such as those of many a death growler, lies in timing, the above-mentioned phrasing, and the tonality and timbre – as should be clear by now – and in the beloved modern acid wash textures of Animal Collective the voices of both singers have become deified and emulated. Why go through the motions of finding a new unique voice when one has the great luck to already sound like Mr. Tare? That is the question Gauntlet Hair seemingly has been struggling with since their demos. With those three tracks a year ago, singer/guitarist Andy R. seemed content to let his voice freewheel between the spaces filled by echo and reverb while maintaining a detached sense of self, forming a territory where the band could explore their washed over composition. Fast-forwarding a bit and transplanting Andy and drummer Craig Nice into a makeshift recording facility (in a grandmother's house) seems to have brought out the inner emulator. Not even ten seconds into opener ‘Keep Time,’ the opening screaming is almost derivative to the point of instant fatigue. What manages to keep Gauntlet Hair’s album float is the somewhat pleasant recycling of drum patches and severely “wrong” mixes that often blow out the cymbals and throw enough reverb on everything to turn it into pure sonic mush – it’s an album that is designed to make the ears tired, and will tire even the hardiest of listeners. Hidden beneath every track’s challenging and near banal shell is a kernel or gang of memorable ear worm parts that turn the album into a series of snippets that bring you back to place them in the fray. ‘Top Bunk’ relies on a slinky bass and snarled vocals to marry the bright, tropical-infused guitar with the deep, distorted kicks in a shared space. Within the territory of Animal Collective, Gauntlet Hair have managed to successfully deterritorialize and implant their own scriptures, albeit at the cost of falling into the homogenized masses of imitators and “homage payers,” even if the duo continually states that this sound was born of their collective experience and musical interest to date. Given the long friendship of Andy and Craig, it seems as likely as their straight-faced adamant adherence implies.

The inevitability of needing to ascribe a numeric value to this album now looms in the distance. How can comparing the chorus of ‘Mop It Up’ to the chorus of ‘Peacebone’ purely for their reliance on random glottal fry/harsh shouting after hearing the verse rely so much on a slew of more original tactics imply something greater than the sum of its more original aspects? Like the homogenized sound of the album, this debut seems like a continuous and stubborn move towards a full and new reterritorialized space for what hipsters can do. It’s not the unseen that has been discovered, but the painfully placed things in the fore that now see newly settled dust brushed off before being shoehorned. ‘Overkill’ may sum it up in its chorus: “Why must this reason go on?”