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Album Review

Three years after their debut, You and I, Cut Off Your Hands returned with Hollow, which featured new guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Lee as well as a revamped sound. The spiky post-punk-isms and experimental ballads of their first album were replaced with a shimmering sound that evoked the breezy melancholy of the Smiths as well as the grooves of late-‘80s Manchester. Hollow's finest moments channel the energy the band had on You and I into this smoother approach: opening track and lead single “You Should Do Better” bounces along on guitar filigrees and singer Nick Johnston's newfound croon. While it sounds like it could have come from the legion of followers the Smiths inspired the first time around, it’s still undeniably catchy. Meanwhile, “Hollowed Out” bears an echo of late-‘80s Echo & the Bunnymen, and “Oh Hell” breathes new life into a vintage Manchester groove (not surprising, considering drummer Brent Harris wrote and sings the song). As on You and I, Hollow's slower moments aren’t the most memorable, but when Cut Off Your Hands play to their pop instincts, as they do on “All It Take”’s endearing backing vocals and on “Down & Out” — which burrows into listeners’ brains through sheer force of will — they can’t miss. A more concise and consistent outing than their debut, Hollow reaffirms that while Cut Off Your Hands may not be innovators, they’re still quite good at what they do.

Customer Reviews

Cut Off Your Hands - Hollow (2011 LP)

Cut Off Your Hands’ first record of post-punk indie anthems, You & I, caught the world by surprise in 2008 with dance floor rattling singles “Turn Cold”, “Expectations” and "Happy As Can Be”. The album was championed far and wide, with everyone from the Australasian press to the UK’s own hype machine, NME, having positive things to say.

The Kiwi ensemble also had the live show to back up the blistering pace of their debut record, which saw the band tour the globe for the better part of the next two years. Having seen the band live numerous times, most recently at Northcote Social Club on June 18, there’s no reason to believe the boys have lost any of the wow factor that made them great in the intervening downtime spent writing and recording.

All of this leads us to album number two, Hollow, which has been eagerly anticipated on both sides of the Tasman for quite some time. It therefore comes as a great relief that the record is indeed all kinds of thought-provoking, well-assured, post shoe-gaze beauty. How often has one been disappointed with the follow up to a great debut only to see the once revered band fall off the face of the earth? Thankfully, Cut Off Your Hands’ sophomore long player will ensure their star continues to shine brightly.
Opening number, and first single, “You Should Do Better” sets the tone for the more mature and complex sound. The soft tones and Johnny Marr-esque guitars serve as the ideal precursor for the rest of the album. Second track “Nausea” is dripping in reverb and produces a melodious combination of heartbreak and anxiety which would undoubtedly please Morrisey.

“By Your Side” sees front man Nick Johnston lamenting a lost love in an almost country (yes, country) style ballad, as he croons “I’ll wait alone by your side”. Album stand out “Hollowed Out” perfectly blends all the elements of COYH old and new. Charged with enough harmonies to make any indie kid serenade his lover, the up-tempo beat works a treat live and unfolds just as nicely on the album. The chorus is trademark COYH - “Oh, these hollow drums, deflated lungs, we come undone”…
It isn’t until “All It Takes” and “Fooling No One” that we get a some of the post-punk overtures which formed the basis of the band’s debut. Throbbing bass lines, crashing cymbals and more tales of despair are all accounted for during these soon to be live favourites.

There was always a noticeable correlation between Cut Off Your Hands’ sound and The Smiths, but now the distance has been bridged even closer. In what is a very strong collection of songs, COYH have crafted a release that has grown with its audience and will undoubtedly attract a new legion of fans. Two very big thumbs up for Hollow.


love love love <3


Loved their first album and when I heard this today (for the first time...cringe) I totally got into it. I personally feel that this album has a more mature feel to it yet in some songs the echoes make it feel carefree and boundless. Everysong hits it right and I can see myself listening to it all summer. Well worth the purchase!!


Formed: New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Auckland, New Zealand-based Cut Off Your Hands make catchy and melodic post-punk-influenced indie rock. Early on, the band changed its name from Shaky Hands to avoid confusion with a Portland, OR, ensemble of the same name. Cut Off Your Hands released their debut EP, Shaky Hands, in 2006 and a follow-up EP, Blue on Blue, in 2007. In 2008, Cut Off Your Hands released their debut full-length album, You and I, on Universal. The album was released in the U.S. via Frenchkiss...
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Hollow, Cut Off Your Hands
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