Album of the Day: Hiccup, “Imaginary Enemies”

Late-night variety shows are not the most common breeding grounds for indie rock bands, but in the case of Hiccup, The Chris Gethard Show was the perfect catalyst. Hallie Bulleit and Alex Clute, the two primary songwriters and lead vocalists of the indie pop-punk trio, decided to form the group after writing short jingles and interludes as the house band for the show.

On their debut full-length album, Imaginary Enemies, Hiccup plow through a collection of 12 wonderful originals that touch on pop-punk, girl group doo-wop, ‘90s grunge revivalism and nuanced surf rock with a lineup rounded out by drummer Piyal Basu. Produced by genre mainstay Kyle Gilbride, the album—with its sweetened grunge melodies and tidy lo-fi production that prioritizes guitar riffs to lyrical clarity—holds up well alongside its closest contemporaries, like Radiator Hospital, All Dogs, and Gilbride’s former band Swearin’.

Bulleit and Clute, who trade vocals and harmonize throughout the record, still take cues from their 30-second jingle writing days: the songs on Imaginary Enemies are terse bursts of energy, none of which stretch past the three-minute mark. Up-tempo rockers like “Austin,” “Dad Jokes,” and “Teasin’” blend seamlessly into one another, but Hiccup’s debut has more musical and lyrical versatility than it seems on first glance. Album highlight “Lady MacBeth & Miss Havisham” recalls the endearingly bookish pop-punk of England’s Martha, while the solo-acoustic duet “Enemies” hints at the songwriting duo’s expanding bag of musical tricks.

Hiccup’s first musical release is a faithful homage to melodic fuzz-guitar and dreamy indie-rock impressionism that gives good reason to believe the trio will be around for a long time.

Jonathan Bernstein

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