From the first notes of Surrounded, Motorists had me hooked. The band’s debut was a taut n tight mixture of power pop and post-punk that felt like it might siphon the screws from the walls. It’s a hard act to follow, but the band doesn’t come on shy with their second album, Touched By The Stuff. The first single is an ode to the infamous Mojave phone booth, but with a power pop snap that instantly transports the listener towards the ‘90s strain of the sound, I can’t stop spinning that Pete & Pete episode about the constantly ringing phone around my brain. Hung on a hook so sweet it’ll carve a cavity, the band jumps into the fray with both feet.

The ‘90s niche doesn’t let up as the album digs deeper. Motorists have a way of skimming through the most elastic impulses from the era. The album finds them adhering the bass-heavy pop punch of Breeders or Elastica to “Call Control,” and leaning into the FM fuzz on “L.O.W.,” dialing down the energy and swapping it for a scrape of grunge’s hold on the decade’s dial. They do let slip a few deeper nods to the ‘80s power pop pulpit as well. “Barking At The Gates” is loose n’ running with the harmonic hues of Shoes. There’s a new wave shimmer that slips through the darkness on “Embers,” but the band weaves them all into an album wrought with displacement and hung on a gnawing hunger. Themes of scraping by, sticking out, and skirting stagnation abound. Motorists are getting lost and found again through life and the art that feeds ya, even when it won’t buy a meal. The band’s debut was a year-ender around here, and I’ll be damned if this one isn’t already charging up the 2024 list.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE (US) or HERE (EU).

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