Jared Macuso’s Hype! is an album ready and waiting to fill the room around you with chaotic energy and classic rock and roll brightness. It’s a project fit for the build-up to anything big – consider this your weekend playlist.
Splendor kicks things off with a punk-rock energy and a marching, anthem-like verse that leads you intensely to the hook’s resolve. Mancuso’s sound comes alive from the offset, you feel the vibrancy and bounce of the music in an instant – the guitars, the drums, the passion and pace of the delivery. After this, So Strong takes the creative route and offers chaotic, characterful, distorted riffs, and a rock and roll-esque back and forth between the high vocal notes and the low. Mancuso paints a picture, lays out a detailed and well structured scene. You get a sense early on that a live show is where things would really come into their own – the album’s artwork pushes further in that direction.
Extraordinary is a song that again utilises a noteworthy instrumental intro, giving the track personality from the start. The vocals come through with these flickers of additional details that add to the drama and colour of the experience. Much more than just the writing, these feel like passionate, thoughtful compositions, each one built up before you in an immersive, inclusive way.
By all accounts, this project feels like an indie-rock classic from around the time that The Hives were making waves. There’s also an accessible softness to the topics touched upon though, reaching out in a personal way to perhaps an even wider potential audience. There are elements of inspiration or motivation in some of the songs, and a sense of accepting who you are in others – this one in particular.
So In Love is one of the more memorable songs on the album. By now, the Jared Mancuso sound has well and truly made itself known – these guitars, these modest but relevant effects, the voice and the development of the melodies – you know who you’re listening to. This song is the first though in which you really take on the ear-wormery of the writing and indeed of the riffs. The stop and start nature of the instrumentation and the melodic lines is a further trait of the artist’s that reaches a definite peak here. Having said that – Alright follows as a strong contender; things get gradually more interesting as the album progresses. There’s something comforting about this organic and carefree, classic rock escapism that you just don’t find all too often anymore.
The album’s title track introduces itself in a classic Mancuso manner. There’s a high-school feel to many of these guitar riffs, taking you back to a simpler time, and subsequently washing the vast majority of your worries away for a while. The Jungle follows and takes the rhythmic marching to a new level. The melody and the performance are notably stylish and soulful, the volume seems to explode into action, and the lyrics expand over longer lines – working hard to hold tight to your attention for as long as possible. This track becomes another that’s pretty unforgettable, and very easy to recognise once you’ve stumbled upon it.
Towards the end of the collection, Play False Blues offers more of the familiar set-up, though this time it’s the concept that draws you in. The shortness of the lines, the single note featured – you want to listen a little more intently, right before the instrumentation bursts into flames. The rock and roll breakaway between verses here is huge, really unique and crucial in making this song a definite personal highlight. There’s a certain artistry about it that sweeps you away.
At the penultimate moment, Optional brings hope and positivity, possibility, to the stage. It’s an important piece that offers some of the clearest lyrics yet for their gentle delivery and the gradually rising energy. The personal touch works its magic too, and the fact that these ideas relate to and connect with all of us. Make It Right follows and continues this theme to finish things off on an uplifting high. The bass-line blesses the ambiance, not for the first time. The delivery is hyped – manic, energizing – a great way to go out. This entire album brings to the forefront an artist with an inherent and unquestionable passion for rock and roll. The balance between nostalgia and newness fits well. Easily worth a download.