Hibou - Something Familiar (Barsuk Records)
Add Date: 02/27
Focus Track: 5, 6, & 2
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, & Triple A
Artist Info: Peter Michel recorded Hibou’s 2015 self-titled debut in a walk-in closet. These humble beginnings led to great things: His shoegaze-frosted dream-pop drew raves reviews and led to opening slots for Metric, Phantogram, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The Seattle-based musician has come a long way since that time—in fact, his second album as Hibou, Something Familiar, reflects several years marked by profound change. “I was still a teenager when I was writing the first album,” he explains. “All of the songs feel a little one-faced. They’re about relationships and love and summertime and things like that. On this upcoming album, I really challenged myself lyrically to get a little more personal, and talk about some of the darker parts of myself.”
More specifically, Something Familiar addresses Michel’s ongoing battle with anxiety and depersonalization -- the latter a disorder distinguished by feeling disengaged from the mind and body, as if someone is an outsider looking in at their own self. As a result, Something Familiar has a decidedly darker tone. Although the core elements of Hibou remain intact—reverb-soaked guitars, plush keyboards, and Michel’s dreamy croon—the record exudes melancholy. The churning “Malison” boasts a tougher, space rock-influenced underbelly, while the shimmering, synth-driven gems “Amethyst” and “The Way You’re Breathing” sigh with resignation. Something Familiar’s intricate arrangements also speak volumes: “Junipero Love” ends with an extended, chiming guitar solo that conveys deep longing—and the molasses-tempo title track utilizes sparse keyboards to illuminate anguish.
More than ever before, Michel knows that maintaining mental equilibrium is an ongoing process that will need adjustment in the future. Thankfully, the last few years have helped him develop the kind of self-awareness and emotional fortitude he needs to navigate his anxiety going forward. “At this point,” Michel says, “I know the best thing for me is to find ways to harbor these feelings—until I can dissolve them.”