The Individuals

Fields/Aquamarine | Bar/None
By SAM UBL  |  July 15, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
From svelte guitar lines to lyrics about neighbors’ pools to a permeating aura of suburban ennui: early-’80s post-punkers the Individuals hewed closer in spirit to the lands immediately west of their home town, Hoboken, than to the big skyscrapers to the east. Their only releases, 1981’s Aquamarine EP and the following year’s Fields, which see joint reissue this month on Bar/None, should rate high among fans of groups like Holy Hail or even Brooklyn ensemble Mahogany. But their sleekly monotonous, chorus-soaked recordings mark the shrewd foursome as a definitive example of the so-called Hoboken Sound. They share the Feelies’ detached intelligence and austere palette, but their low-tension, stiff-funky style is the graphic-design program to the Feelies’ art school: rock by people who never got much of a charge out of rock music. Drummer Doug Wygal regards syncopation as an otiose seasoning, like salt on a dish that’s perfectly tasty without it, and his restraint helps propel numbers like Fields standout “My Three Sons (Revolve Around the Earth).” None of it will rock the worlds of less-than-obsessive fans of American post-punk, but it’s something we could do with more of: enterprising indie rock sprung from minds that are sophisticated but nonetheless smart enough to keep it simple.
Related: Conor Oberst, WFNX Disorientation 2008, Year in Local Pop: Local motion, More more >
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