Initially began as the solo recording project of the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter Peter Michel, Hibou quickly exploded into the national scene with his self-produced, home recorded, 2015 self-titled debut, which received praise from Pitchfork, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound and others for crafting shimmering yet introspective bedroom pop. And adding to a growing profile, Michel opened for the like son Metric, Phantogram and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Michel’s sophomore Hibou effort Something Familiar is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through Barsuk Records finds Michel embracing a number of changes. The Seattle, WA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer made a rather conscious choice to track the album’s material in a real studio — this time, Chris Walla‘s Hall of Justice Studios, with an outside producer, Dylan Wall, who has worked with Craft Spells, a band that Michel once played drums in. Adding to a string of changes to his creative and recording process, Something Familiar finds Michel recording with his touring band. “I toured for a long time with the band, and it was really interesting to see how the songs changed when there were four people playing them, as opposed to just me in my bedroom,” Michel explains in press notes.
Along with that, the material reflects a period marked by profound changes. “I was still a teenager when I was writing the first album,” Michel says. “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.” In fact, the material addresses Michel’s ongoing bouts with anxiety and depersonalization. (Depersonalization is a disorder generally distinguished by feeling disengaged from the mind and body. as if if the sufferer is an outsider looking in at their own self.) Naturally, while still retaining elements of the sound that first caught both national attention and the attention of the blogosphere — namely, lush keys, reverb soaked guitars and Michel’s dreamy crooning. “It was strange to start consciously writing from a different stylistic standpoint, but I didn’t want to totally turn the page,” Michel notes. “There is still a fundamental Hibou sound in there. It just is drenched in a little more honesty.”
You might remember that “Junipero Love” was reportedly inspired by the Emmy Award-winning “San Junipero” episode of Black Mirror. Interestingly, Michel found common ground with the episode’s protagonist Yorkie, who navigated two different realities and a burgeoning relationship. “The contrast between the two worlds depicted in the episode hit very close to home for me,” Hibou’s creative mastermind says in press notes. “I often feel torn between a conscious state and losing a hold of my memories and who I am.” And while the single will further cement Hibou’s reputation for crafting breezy and shimmering guitar pop, there’s a subtle expansion of his sound as you’ll hear a tight and funky groove throughout; but underneath the breeziness is a wistful and bittersweet tone that suggests that the song’s narrator isn’t quite sure if he’s dreaming or awake or if he’s experiencing is actually real.
Something Familiar‘s latest single “Malison” is a breezy bit of power pop that features enormous power chords, soaring synths and a rousingly anthemic hook paired with Michel’s dreamy yet deeply anxious vocals within a song that sounds indebted to 90s alt rock, complete with a radio friendly air; but underneath, the swaggering arena rock sound, the song is much darker with Michel admitting in press notes that the song is “the most honest song I’ve ever written. It confronts the attention that my anxiety demands and handicaps me into a spiral of routines that only end up making things worse. I can’t remember the last time I had a day where I felt comfortable in my own skin and felt like I wasn’t putting on an act of normality.”