In a recent YouTube interview, the little-known Austin band Hitting Subset seems humble and meek. Standing against a wall, the four bandmates gaze at their feet, describe their sound (“If you’re a die-hard pop-punk fan, you’re probably not gonna like us that much”), and explain why they aren’t on tour (“Our van kinda broke down”). But if Hitting Subset is timid on camera (and unknown almost everywhere), its debut album, Hikari/Yami (Trash Panda Productions, August 4), is anything but. Throwing pop-punk hooks over kaleidoscopic metal rhythms, the band nails its balancing act with agility and poise.
Album opener “Backlash” starts with quiet reverb, until a snare hit opens a geyser of sound. Bright vocals rush in, propelled by militant drums and a throbbing guitar counterpoint. Surprisingly, none of this feels congested; the rising earworm melodies and tumbling hard-core rhythms keep Hikari/Yami in motion. And even if the band stumbles when it whistles out of tune or gets vaguely political (“Easy to forget the ones who fought and died so we could cry about what’s in the Federal Reserve”), it almost always manages to be vulnerable without losing its force. That combination could take Hitting Subset far—once they get their van fixed.
Check out “Hikari/Yami” here: