Don’t put Portland’s the Hague into a box. On the band’s latest, Black Rabbit, the group defies comfortable categorization and broaden boundaries to include indie rock, pop punk, alt-country, grungy post rock and more. The fivesome defines what they do as “quiet music played loud,” an apt description. The CD starts with “An Open Book Conversationalist,” a blast of instrumental post rock punk urged along by pealing guitars, rhythmical variations and the band’s signature use of electrified violin. The West Coast is a recurring theme. “Los Angeles” (about making life changes while learning how to drive the freeways) begins as a mid-tempo pop piece before rollicking guitars and roiling fiddle combine forces into a flurry of anthemic proportions. “California Curse” (concerning the attempt to place the past in the rearview mirror) has a comparable arrangement and morphs from folk-ish pop to amped-up space rock. The menacing “Hourglass” and “His Talk; Her Teeth” flit from dynamic to dynamic, with buildups that move from melancholy to Coldplay-like transcendence.
Black Rabbit is available now.