Hooray For Earth
Following up a critically acclaimed debut album can be an artist’s worst nightmare. It brings the type of intense pressure that, more often than not, leads to unfortunate stylistic departures and play-it-safe sequels. For Hooray For Earth leader Noel Heroux, plotting the band’s sophomore album Racy (2014) required ignoring expectations and stripping away baggage, musical and otherwise. “This album is the most intentional thing I’ve ever put together”, Heroux says. “I wanted everything loud and direct so you don’t have to guess at what you’re getting into.”
While Heroux began recording demos as Hooray for Earth as early as 2003, the band’s career began in earnest with Heroux’s relocation to New York City in 2007, and the subsequent release of 2009's EP Momo. The arrival of the LP True Loves (2011 / Dovecote Records) the following summer would prove to be a watershed moment for the band.
An audacious debut album packed with the type of songs that make you want to sing along, dance, and make you feel uncomfortable, all at the same time, True Loves won the band a well-deserved round of huzzahs from all of the key tastemakers and helped expand the band’s audience both in the US and abroad. In 2012, Hooray for Earth made their maiden voyage to the UK and saw their single “No Love'' reach the A-list on BBC Radio 1. After a hearty round of touring on the European festival circuit, the band closed out 2012 with the digital release of the single “Never/Figure”.
While the band spent a good chunk of 2013 in hibernation mode, Heroux had hardly been idle. After making an appearance on Twin Shadow’s sophomore album Confess, Heroux spent time producing, writing, and occasionally playing guitar with several NYC bands including Cymbals Eat Guitars and Autre Ne Veut, prompting Brooklyn Vegan to declare that “[Heroux] is proving to be one of the city’s most resourceful and creative guitarists.”
With Chris Coady (Grizzly Bear, Beach House, Future Islands) in the co-producer's seat, the sessions for Racy took place at Dreamland in Kingston, NY and at DNA Downtown in NYC over the first few months of 2013. Crafting a more fluid listening experience with Racy also meant a more active role in the studio for Heroux’s longtime bandmates, bassist Chris Principe, drummer Joe Ciampini, and keyboardist/vocalist Jessica Zambri.
“I’m still writing, arranging and doing the preliminary recording”, Heroux says. “But then it’s all funneled out through our scrappy rock band.” Racy is very much a rock album. Featuring nine finely etched songs rendered to life by Coady’s crystalline production, Racy represents a bold and beautiful step into the light for Hooray for Earth.
"HFE is an indie-pop band that really isn't beholden to any sort of trend... Noel Heroux is delivering a deceptively forceful performance while drums boom and guitars chug, waiting for the festival masses to arrive." - Pitchfork