Little Trophy (Independent)
The funny thing about first impressions is how often they’re totally wrong. To look at promo photos of Hyaenas is to conclude the four-piece might hold its own in a cage match with L7, Tribe 8, and Lunachicks, that have everything to do with the impressive tattoos, vaguely badass attitude, and a fashion sense that might be described as post-grunge anti-chic.
The quartet’s debut EP Little Trophy announces its arrival with the 30-second “Oh, No”, where ghostworld vocals and heat-shimmer guitar nod beautifully to ’90s indie troopers like Lisa Germano and Kristen Hersh.
From there? Pure coolwave pop is the default on the EP, even when the guitars start out distorted and chugging at the beginning of “For the Birds”, and when echo-thump drums serve as the launching pad for “Another Level”.
There’s indeed an argument that Hyaenas have more than a passing affection for those who’ve come before them, with “It’s Not Up to Me” sounding like a space-age update of L.A.’s ’60s-paisley underground, and “Little Trophy” laced with neon-drift ’80s synths. Lest that sound like the band is somehow stuck in a past it never knew, there’s also something thoroughly modern about Little Trophy, and not just because the production is digitially buffed and double-candied enough for the programmers at Apple Music Alternative.
More thoughtful than spitting bullets angry, the lyrics veer from the personal to the here-and-now topical. On the latter front, the group takes aim at #MeToo abusers in “It’s Not Up to Me” (“I’m gonna fight you for the crimes that you have served”) and American sex cults in “Another Level” (“You take my time, you take my money/Lure my in with your milk and honey”).
Subversive, given that Hyaenas—sonically at least—are inarguably more on the sweet than spiky side? Absolutely. Which suggests first impressions are sometimes right, even when they aren’t.