Although Hardship Post's stock-in-trade is pop music, you won't find any sweeping melodies, rousing choruses, or lush arrangements on their recently released debut LP, Somebody Spoke (Sub Pop). Instead the trio's songs display a punchy, no-frills guitar-bass-drums attack and a fondness for brittle, bittersweet melodies that recalls the early work of new wavers like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Marshall Crenshaw. There are hooks galore on Somebody Spoke, but they're more insinuating than extravagant. Tunes like "Garbage-Truck" and "Watchin You" nestle catchy choruses amid edgy riffs and snide lost-love lyrics, while "Your Sunshine" is a singularly languid, low-key bit of pop brilliance. The record's closer, "If I...," memorably conveys the fragile romantic yearning of Brian Wilson's best work with an accompaniment so sparse it barely rises above a whisper. On the other hand Hardship Post isn't above the occasional rockout: "What a Day" is a raucous postpunk chug, and "My Secret Life" snaps and sizzles with a nifty hook and an irresistibly sinuous groove. Their bare-bones pop may have a new-wave feel, but the craftsmanship and appeal are classic. What else would you expect from a band that recently recorded a split single with fellow Canadian and former BTO/Guess Who chieftain Randy Bachman? They open for labelmates Six Finger Satellite and Zumpano on Sub Pop's Human Touch tour. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Catherine Stockhausen.