EP REVIEW: Small Reactions – ‘Hung From Wire’

Small Reactions - Hung From Wire

SMALL REACTIONS
Hung From Wire
[Self-released, 2014]

★★★½☆

Purchase This Album:
Bandcamp

At just three songs long, Hung From Wire may come and go quickly, but it still remains the most comprehensive document we’ve yet to receive from Small Reactions. Odd as that may seem for a band that’s been an active player in the Atlanta scene for six years, consider just how much forward momentum the band has been to squeeze out of the handful of singles they’ve unveiled thus far. Ragged, resonant music delivered in small spurts has always been the group’s guiding force, and there’s no doubt they’ve managed to churn out some lasting thrillers over the years.

But lead track “Shark Week” is the the best of the bunch. It doesn’t quite have the frantic energy of 2013′s “Michael J. Foxworthy,” but what it lacks in urgency it makes up two-fold with smarts and indelible hooks. It’s difficult to decide what’s more infectious—the coiled tension and rapturous release of the guitars or Scotty Hoffman’s chest-swelling vocals—but the question becomes fairly moot when they’re paired together across four-and-a-half minutes of fuzz-pop perfection. “I felt like sinking ships” Hoffman repeats as the song spirals towards its conclusion, his words of fear and distress made more impactful by the music’s fervent emotional blast. This is top-down, post-punk-infused rock meant for road trips and keg parties, but it’s good to know that if you’re feeling downcast or defeated, Small Reactions have your back.

The taut, sprightly title track moves forward in much the same vein with sprinting guitars propelling the listener headlong into a rush of nervy rhythms and the rising black waters of unpaid debts. It’s an emphatic, ebullient rocker, but the more you submit to the song’s mounting tension, the more the tightly-knit grooves begin to burst at the seams. There’s youthful abandon there, but also the encroaching demands and pitfalls of adulthood lurking in every corner. I’d like to think that the title refers to the idea of being hung in suspension, trapped at the intersection between recklessness and responsibility, getting wild and growing old. It’s a well-worn theme, especially in rock circles, but there’s some cathartic satisfaction in knowing that Small Reactions aren’t going down without a fight.

All of which makes the closer, “Betamax (1981),” such a disappointment. In and of itself, the song is fine; it’s a meditative mid-tempo number that’s likely meant as a change of pace, as a point of reflection perhaps, to the EP’s otherwise frantic scamper. But when your record is just three songs long, and you’re in the middle of such an explosive run, it’s like a sprinter suddenly getting winded mid-stride. You’d much rather hear the band go for broke and collapse from exhaustion then settle into a comfortable jog.

So much of Small Reactions’ power is tied into the spirit of the moment, the buzzing, whirlwind intensity of the here and now. That’s a lot of combustive energy to corral and control, and it’s easy for some of that electrified air to escape the balloon, so to speak. The band could’ve just reached into their old bag of tricks, but instead they turned out something bigger and bolder than anything they’ve unveiled in the past. They may have stumbled getting to the finish line, but damn if they didn’t run one hell of a race.

More Info:
Web: www.smallreactions.blogspot.com
Bandcamp: www.smallreactions.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/smallreactions
Twitter: www.twitter.com/smallreactions