Darr: ‘Hands Like Glaciers’ shines while maintaining a grip on Old News’ signature sound

Hands Like Glaciers by Old News

“Hands Like Glaciers” by Old News

The deep and common fear of a fan watching a band rise is that of seeing a signature sound defanged through increased production value. The raw bite of early recordings bows to convention, and suddenly the band isn’t there in the room, shredding the wallpaper at a local house show. Instead, they’re sending transmissions from a Hi-Fi studio utopia in the clouds.

The resulting shift is like seeing friends suddenly appear on the photoshop-treated cover of a magazine: “Who are these people?” you ask. Did I ever know them? Slowly, the memories of the house show and merch table conversations vanish into overproduced dust.

Thankfully, “Hands Like Glaciers” showcases an upgrade in Old News’ recording quality that refuses to compromise artistic vision. “Hands Like Glaciers” provides the Wichita band’s cleanest recording thus far. Its guitars boast the shiny edge of your mainstream alt rock band’s latest record. Yet all the hallmarks of the band’s sound remain delightfully intact.

Opener “Don’t Bum Me Out” ricochets from syncopated guitar riffs to the punchy stop-and-start, math rock rhythms the band has mastered since their formation. Although thick guitars dominate the recording’s foreground, frenetic riffs add edge and dimension from deep in the mix. As the song reaches a fever pitch, screamed vocals break through the track’s surface, and we’re left with one of Old News’s most successful takes on crescendoing emo rock to date.

The rest of the EP beautifully follows up on the promise of its opener. Jagged rhythms and infectious choruses dual for spotlight on “Floods of Color,” “Tangled Up” dissolves from a math-rocker to a blissed-out instrumental jam, and “Quarter Life Crisis” marries youthful angst to yearning guitar riffs.

By the time closer and record highlight “Melatonin Gummy” hits, the band has earned its foray into instrumental lushness. Major key guitar riffs and a skyscraping chorus vocal provide the band’s best shot at a crossover success. If there was any doubt that Old News would make the most of a studio upgrade, “Melatonin Gummy” offers a resounding affirmation of the band’s raw talent. Here’s to cheering them into the big leagues.