Hammer of My Own
(Closebye Music)
Add date: 8.27.2024
Release date: 8.23.2024

Apple Music

The hammer is one of the most commonly used tools by humankind throughout history,
and it’s taken on rich symbolism over thousands of years, showing up in mythology,
national flags, political symbols and folk tales as a representation of both
industriousness and impulsiveness. For the New York band Closebye, it represents the
act of tearing down your old life and building a new one—but, as we all know, it’s a lot
easier to knock things down than to build them up again. Self-improvement isn’t as easy
as simply taking pilates or meditation: it requires hard work, self-motivation and a
willingness to wade into difficult situations.

Hammer of My Own, Closebye’s second album, understands this intimately. The music
reflects several cycles of creation and destruction: the band’s reformation after finding
themselves on the brink of a breakup in 2021, the devastation of the live music industry
during the pandemic and the joy of its rebuilding. According to singer-songwriter Jonah
Paul Smith
, the album’s lyrics are preoccupied with ”the struggle to come to grips with
self-reliance, with constant shifts of blame, projection, codependency, ending with a new
sobering independence, and the realization that only you can be your own savior.”

The music on Hammer of My Own reflects the conflicting impulses of its creation by
pairing the band’s gauzy, textural indie rock with a powerful rhythmic chassis suggestive
of the early-’90s pairing of rock and rave—bands like Primal Scream and the Stone
, who likewise wrote about burning out and screwing up over jubilant, sky-high
beats. Some of Closebye’s newfound sonic oomph owes to the band’s illustrious team
behind the boards. Multi-instrumentalist Ian Salazar, who previously worked with White
and Mamalarky, produced the record and helped craft its striking sound. James
has mixed albums by Porches and Carly Rae Jepsen and here brings a
sleekness to the songs on the record.

But what holds everything together is the band’s chemistry. Smith’s vocals are tender
and soothing, with a world-weary and cynical edge that keeps them from dissolving into
the soundscape. The band’s other “J.P. Smith,” Julian Paint Smith, keeps the listener on
edge with dense walls of synth and guitar leads that vacillate between dreamy and
electrifying. Bassist Margaux Bouchegnies and drummer Simon Clinton fuse the oomph
of a great rock rhythm section with the relentlessness of early rave music, and
everything contributes to a wall of sound that’s almost overwhelming in comparison to
the band’s comparatively hushed debut Lucid News from 2022.

Even at just over half an hour, Hammer of My Own feels larger than life, and the best
way to experience it is to sit back and let it wreck you.