Del Toro are great. Australia’s sexiest sonics? Possibly. If the band’s preceding EP Formicae* was all foreplay – an attractive package brimming with languid lead guitar lines and cinematic smokiness – *Hydra is one hell of a Kama Sutra. And true to the mythical hydra, this strong beast of an LP has many different varieties of head. Thus, be warned – there are many different faces and facets of Del Toro.
Del Toro are a versatile post-prettyboy rock band who pay attention to sonic detail yet still manage to rock out with supreme control. They’re 99.9 percent instrumental, so there’s no jerk-off vocal posturing or awkward man-boy poetry – just riffs. They’ve mastered the ol? Western schtick, reverberating tones and Morriconeical pauses between plucks on the dusty string, but they’re at their sprightly, danceable best when they’re plugging out straight-up rock jams based around chunky developing bass loops and spiralling variations on themes (case in point is the spunky ?Unlimited?). They love twisting feedback and gnarly pick-scrape techniques – the kind that sound great when coupled with street skate videos – yet they obviously enjoy injecting pseudo-ambient lulls (?Hydra?), treated radio snippets and incidental atmospherics into their epic work like it ain’t nobody’s business (?Exxo?).
At times their bass-heavy throb sounds like an earthier, more optimistic Girls Against Boys. However, on the economical ?Spare Parts?, the focus is clearly on sparkling guitar textures. This track simply soars – as the rhythm section locks together to provide some mammoth math-beats, gentle staccato guitar phrases that sound akin to pebble-skips ?cross a pond nestle in among filmy wah. It’s all too beautiful.