It’s been a minute since I’ve listened to blanket rock that makes me want to stay in bed all day. In only 30 minutes, Ovlov’s Tru places one caught in a reverie for the rest of the day reflecting on the past and its consequences. Utterly distorted yet beautifully produced, Steve Hartlett’s band allows us to feel young again while acknowledging the present self. Themes of isolation, relationships, and alienation ring true to bedroom pop enthusiasts, the kind that dwells in the deep trenches of angsty reverb.
Many ascribe Hartlett’s style to 90’s slacker fuzz, but I attribute him to the more contemporary Bandcamp artists from earlier this decade (Teen Suicide, Elvis Depressedly, Weed). Lo-fi as an umbrella genre has somewhat meandered over the years with its rise in the early 2010s where indie rock fans spent their days in their bedrooms crafting songs that confined them to their confined spaces yet also gave these artists a chance to share that space with the rest of the world on Bandcamp or Soundcloud. On Tru, the album comes as somewhat of a revival of that era. Fans of that sound might attempt to look for comfort lying in bed and wallow in the depths of heartache. “Spright” gives off a feeling of moving on and acceptance (“In a hardened pain, you lie, and cry / And I will try to find a different way home”) while “Half Way Fine” seeks for shelter in the noise for self-healing (“Often I swallow heat waves / Bottle up, control my sleek shaves / And I’ll try to fix my”).
Harlett’s penchant for Pixies-style loud-quiet dynamics is also at play where guitar arpeggios are held on a tight rope, only for it to break loose in euphoric splendor. On “Stick,” Hartlett suspends us on each verse where goosebumps crawl up the skin only for them to fall back apart rapidly on each breakdown. On “Short Morgan,” a lo-fi pop-punk jog at the beginning of the track suddenly bursts into Hartlett’s deafening yearning for comfort when he sings, “Why not try to find a friend to wait along with me to ride / Cause alone it feels so pointless.” Each moment of tension and release is a gratifying mood.
At just 30 minutes, Tru is a concise record that fits in about every pop hook into the mud of sound that sinks you in deep. As Hartlett sings on “Grab It from the Garden,” his purpose is to “Melt you, please your fool around for now / Feel your head begin to round around.” The record is fully accomplished in headphones, where one can escape into the reassuring sludge that ends the album in tranquility. There’s a warmth in the sugary hooks that Hartlett gives off, whether in a distorted guitar riff or his anguished singing. It’s a strong and personal record to keep close by in the coming winter months.