His Electro Blue Voice is as meditative as it is menacing, the Italian noise-rock band's collection of high-strung scrapes and howls driven by motorik percussion. Mental Hoop, its second record following Ruthless Sperm and a series of EPs, draws back on the pleasantries and dives headfirst into the nastier end of the band's sound.
"Crystal Mind" finds the band channeling its inner Hüsker Dü, kicking off with a big, buzzy salvo much like the Minnesota trio, whose drummer Grant Hart died in September, unleashed in their prime. It feels like a hypothetical mashup of Land Speed Record and Zen Arcade, taking from Hüsker Dü's unbridled beginnings as Minnesota's Black Flag as much as the expansive, yet still underground-minded rock savants they would be become. As loud and brash as it is like the rest of Mental Hoop, the melody that drives "Crystal Mind" feels urgent, a sort of pep-talk as subtext that you can survive the rest of the record (which is fantastic, by the way).
Like a lot of great heavy records this year, Mental Hoop wasn't specifically made for these times, but assuredly feels like it. Frustration is legitimate, yet it's useless without somewhere to go, without somebody to inspire. "Crystal Mind" is ties the seething rage of Hoop together — and gives it a sense of purpose.