There is something deeply pleasing and satisfying about an artfully crafted experimental-rock album. Between psychedelic sliding guitars and polished-perfect melodies, Jo Passed’s newest release Out is an album full of exploratory pop sounds to revel in. Fronted by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Joseph Hirabayashi (formerly from neo-psychedelic band Sprïng who disbanded in the summer of 2015), the Jo Passed outfit has a similar style but is more cultivated and melodic. And absolutely, Hirabayashi’s unique lyrics and outstanding attention to detail can be credited for this album’s commanding presence.
Out begins with “In,” distorted guitar bashing that is reminiscent of psychster Ty Segall during his earlier days. It abruptly shifts to the perfectly layered ruckus of a steady beating drum stacked with guitar riffs that can only be described as delicious. It’s an excellent start, and sets up nicely for an album full of cunningly blended alternative sounds and accessibility.
Hirabayashi slows things down for the second track, “Rage,” without laying a hand on the volume. Between the distorted guitars and echoing vocals, it’s a hefty dose of well-groomed quirky sounds to drown yourself in. Despite the fact that it’s a little unsurprising that the following song (and best named track) “Lego My Ego” is a sudden jolt in energy in comparison to “Rage,” its thumping drum kicks and bouncing bass line are catchy and animated.
The final song, “Spring,” seems to be a homage to Hirabayashi’s old relationship with his former band, Sprïng. Notably his creative relationship with Elliot Langford, who Hirabayashi played closely with for years, may be on the back burner for the moment. However, he seems hopeful that they’ll collide musically once again, singing “Something could happen, it almost worked before, we just have to try harder, we can make it work.” It’s a rhythmic, buzzing end to a highly entertaining album. Out is an explosive blend of harmoniously grungy pop and exquisitely crafted melodies. It’s pop music for those who like it a little rough around the edges.