Hideout made a strong debut a little over two years ago with Rookie, a collection of indie pop songs that showcased the combined talents of New York City’s Gabriel Rodriguez and San Diego’s Cory Stier, who are also bandmates in Cults. Its follow-up, So Many Hoops/So Little Time, is sonically similar, a melodic and hook-driven set of indie pop from a pair of veteran musicians with an impressive amount of combined mileage under their belts. Yet the mood has shifted dramatically since then. So Many Hoops/So Little Time was written after the death of Rodriguez’s brother Adrian, and his grief is an overarching theme throughout the record’s 10 tracks.
To be clear, So Many Hoops is not a devastating bummer of an album. Rodriguez is an ace pop songwriter, and most of his compositions here are upbeat and catchy, even when he’s exposing his wounds. On the Teenage Fanclub-like jangle of “Doctor,” he makes a wonderful sing-along chorus out of psychological torment: “Doctor, can you help me?/I need a prescription.” And on the pulsing, psychedelic post-punk number “See You Around,” Rodriguez wrestles with his own anguish as he sings, “Maybe I been getting too low/ I got the overwhelming feeling that I can’t let go/ I try to stand tough but my knees give out.”
So yeah, there’s some heavy stuff happening on this record, and Rodriguez doesn’t shy away from his pain. Yet it’s because of his ability to write such concise, perfectly crafted pop songs that it never ends up being an unpleasant listen—not in the slightest. From a pure songwriting standpoint, Hideout has made great strides since their debut. “We All Go Down Together” finds a delicate balance between hallucinatory weirdness and pop melody, while “Sun Gazer” finds the group channeling T. Rex for a super-fun glam-rock strut. In fact, “super-fun” is a pretty accurate way to describe a lot of these songs, in spite of the tragic inspiration behind them. At just a half-hour long, So Many Hoops doesn’t wear out its welcome, but in that short span it combines catharsis, celebration, grief, joy and pain. For a relatively short album, So Many Hoops covers an impressive amount of ground.