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Hikes open Lilt with a explosive storm of noise, as if they want us to know they’re making something of a departure from the gentler, folky math that they’ve been pioneering since their early release Friends and their self-titled (and absolutely divine) sophomore release. And that’s exactly what Lilt is; something of a departure.

Hardcore lovers of math will undoubtedly be more inclined to find common ground with Hikes in Lilt; there are an abundance of time signature changes, and more notes per beat here than you can fathom. ‘Onset’, the first release from the EP and seemingly the flagship track, is particularly virtuosic in this nature, with drummer Chris Long showing incredible lightness of touch, playing complex grooves as guitar and bass lines flutter and skitter around whilst Nathan Wilkins’ distinctively sweet vocal lines earnestly soar over the complex sonic landscape.

Upon first listen, feel to some that Hikes have lost some of their delicacy. ‘Habit’, in particular, has a chorus comprised of bass, guitar and vocals playing together in absolute unison. It could perhaps sound inelegant if not for its assertiveness – it’s not a listening experience that sits easily, but it’s an uncompromising one, sparse and bold.

It’s also an undeniably fun record, particularly in ‘Timothy’, a closer which bounces along unpredictably before building to a climax reminiscent of Bohemian Rhapsody’s headbanging moment (you know the one). It’s a little on the nose, but thankfully sits on the right side of cheese, and you can’t help but raise a smile.

Lilt is a subtle change of direction for Hikes – more headstrong than their previous work, maybe even a little less twee. Luckily, the artfulness still remains, making an ultimately thrilling record.

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