Thurs March 24
Berbati's Pan
10 SW 3rd

Hood are miserable bastards--and it's a really big part of their charm. Dealing primarily in a particularly British strain of triumphant defeatism, the Leeds, England quartet began in 1990 as an unassuming, lo-fi rock unit with a knack for satisfying sensitive indie rockers' desire for melancholy songs. The trio of Stephen Royle and brothers Richard and Christopher Adams come on like heirs to Joy Division's miserablist throne, albeit in reduced circumstances. Compared to Hood's humble yet heartfelt poignancy, Joy Division sound positively grandiose and melodramatic.

But you can only travel so far with autumnal, threadbare-sweatered mope rock before experiencing diminishing returns. Like most intelligent musicians, Hood evolved--and for indie rockers, evolution typically means adding electronic and/or hiphop elements into their music. Change began to creep into Hood's sound with 1997's Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys, and 1999's The Cycle of Days and Seasons. Here, the songs sprawl to more epic lengths, recalling pastoral British post-rockers like Bark Psychosis and Talk Talk. (Third Eye Foundation's Matt Elliot co-produced these two albums, and his murky, dub-like sound processing permeates them.) This was then followed by 2001's Cold House (what many consider to be Hood's Kid A), an album that further introduced the band to more electronic and hiphop traits. Cold House may be more danceable, but Hood haven't succumbed to clubdom's smiley-faced hedonism--rather, they've slightly modulated their soft-focus melancholy.

Hood's new album, Outside Closer, provides a Technicolor summary of their career. "Any Hopeful Thoughts Arrive" and "End of One Train Working" evoke the gentler side of Four Tet's folktronica. Vibrant, melodically sophisticated glitch-hop single "The Lost You" shares similarities with Scientific American's new album. If this track doesn't exactly scream "hit," it does indicate that Hood are one of those rare groups who improve--and change--with age. But they're still miserable blokes.