The Bay Area has been blooming with excellent new bands over the last few years, situating it as the epicenter of indie pop for the 10’s into the ‘20s. Oakland’s Hits stand out nicely among their peers as their new album Cielo Nublado finds its way out this week from local enclave Paisley Shirt. Cradled in an itchy innocence, the record pulls from the ranks of post-punk, twee and indie pop’s past. With visions of Marine Girls, Television Personalities, and Dolly Mixture rising from the speakers, the band creates a ringing pop din with Trojan Horse hooks that creep through the cracks in their simple setup. Jen Weisberg’s vocals blanket the recordings with a bit of reclusive tenderness but also a biting, surreal wit — a bedroom pop album built for the gallery show stage. Her guitars gnash and prickle while beneath them cap gun rattles of percussion make way for Max Nordile’s tangle of bass.
Cielo Nublado’s simplicity belies its brilliance. From the almost wistful opener, recalling The Free Design gone indie pop to the propulsive pining of “Drawstring Ties,” the album is constantly recasting familiar forms into the terms of Hits. Like a long-favorite television presence suddenly rendered in animation for a brief sequence, the record is constantly creating a tip-of-the-tongue vision of pop that’s scratches at the brain to follow their threads backwards through the pop pantheon. Swapping sprightly strums with discordant clang one moment and whimsy for devastation time and again, the record feels like it belongs on the shelf next to copies of Brilliant Colors’s Again and Again and Grass Widow’s eponymous debut. It’s the kind of album that needs a bit to get under the skin, but once it’s in, Cielo Nublado is hard to shake.
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