Secret Meeting score: 85
by Philip Moss
Last year, Texas native, Micah P. Hinson, released The Holy Strangers – his best long player since 2010’s The Pioneer Saboteurs – which received unanimous critical acclaim for its stunning blend of Americana storytelling and ambient instrumentation. Fast forward two years, and Hinson is back with his ninth studio collection of original material, When I Shoot At You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy.
On first listen, opener, I Am Looking for the Truth, Not a Knife in the Back, finds itself caught in quicksand as the lazy instrumentation of Hinson and his band – The Musicians of The Apocalypse – seemingly get to know each other. But through Hinson’s trademark drawl – under which low, distorted guitar growls ripple out – it unveils itself to be one of the best, yet most understated, compositions of the 37-year-old’s career.
Those of you that are followers of Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music evening slot are probably already familiar with The Sleep of the Damned, which has found itself on rotation on the long-time supporter/fan’s show. But no one can accuse Riley that this is a case of ‘jobs for the boys’ because its pulsating blend of Phil Spector’s’ wall of sound’ being shoved through a cheese grater makes the second single one of a number of highlights.
Perhaps not so radio friendly, but no less magnificent, is Fuck Your Wisdom, which bar the intermittent fluttering of a reverb heavy piano sees Hinson’s extraordinary voice placed right up front over a solitary guitar. Charged lead single, Small Spaces, sounds like Interpol might if they wired themselves up to the mains. While the double-tracked vocal of the album’s title track harks back to the laboured feel of the LP’s opener, before branching out into a technicoloured blur of Springsteen-esque guitars and the album’s first sustained section of vocal-free instrumentation before cinematic closer, The Skulls of Christ.
When I Shoot at You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy is a staggeringly good album released by one of America’s most underrated singer/songwriters. But not only is it the best of Hinson’s career to date, it’s one of the best released this year, full stop.