Review: Hampshire – Two Trains [EP]

The latest EP from Detroit natives Hampshire is, quite frankly, a masterpiece. If you wanted to stop reading now and just go to buy the record from their Bandcamp at a name-your-price rate (or on cassette, if that’s your thing), then you could do. I’d recommend it, and then you’d get to experience it like I did; no preconceptions, no expectations, absolutely no idea what you’re about to hear. What I did hear was nothing short of amazing.

For those of you not ready to take the plunge without a few guiding words, Two Trains is a deep and involving record. Since their inception in 2008, Hampshire have carefully been working on developing a layered and emotionally complex sound that truly comes to fruition in Two Trains. In some ways, it is like if Saves The Day and Brand New got together and had a freaky little lovechild, but it’s also extremely accomplished and stands apart from its influences. Thankfully, they’ve picked up that penchant for great lyrics from that scene, and Two Trains is a pleasure to lose yourself in, to feel yourself wrapped up in love and loss and growth and life but in a way you can never quite phrase yourself. That same evocative nature feeds right into the musicality of the EP. ‘Windows’ is melancholic yet highly inventive in its approach, with some creepy, hair-raising screams in the chorus backing the main vocals. The harmonies in ‘I Want To Deafen Your Ears’ are soaring, beautiful vocal arrangements. Hampshire aren’t afraid of a little variety either. The first two songs of the EP are the heaviest, but in ‘Let Down’, they start to embrace a slightly poppier edge, almost Inkwell-esque. The range that Hampshire display while still being faithful to their own voice is fantastic – and the completely balls-to-the-wall guitar solo at the end just validates that. To say that Two Trains is a serious record isn’t remiss, but they know how to inject just enough lightness so that it doesn’t completely weigh you down. And at the end of the journey, in ‘Waiting Game’, the record builds to a crashing crescendo, leaving a marked impression.

We need more music like this. Forget Warped Tour; get into something with a little more bite. Get into Hampshire.

5 out of 5 high fives!

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