Kevin Krauter has recently released his third album, Toss Up. Krauter is the bass player for his main project, Hoops, of Bloomington, Indiana. Hoops began during the summer of 2016 with three tapes released in quick succession and have been doing big things since. May of last year gave us Routines and a collection of the initial three tapes reissued together, and available for a physical release for the first time.

       Toss Up opens with a modulating synth chord as a nod to Hoops. This Hoops referencing will be a feature throughout the album as the pace is quicker, more pop ambitious, and utilizes more synths than his first two albums. The shift in production style allows songs like “Lonely Boogie,” “Keep Falling In Love,” and “Toss Up” feel so expansive and encompassing.

        My favorite moment on the album comes with “Restless’” huge pseudo-sax synth hook coming in over fat, reverb drums. Krauter lets this build and breath, ultimately utilizing it as a mid point intermission, separating the first two tracks, “Rollerskate” and “Suddenly,” from “Keep Falling In Love.” Another peak is the drum work on the album’s final track. The snare leading the verses is fantastic by itself, but continues to evolve and dictate the track until the album’s conclusion.

       Tonally, the album sounds like the introspective Krauter we were introduced to in the first two albums found what he was looking for, and became a cool Miami Vice style detective.  Krauter keeps the same crispy vocal delivery, narrative lyrical quality, and overall sincerity, but repackages it to a more ambitious, full palette.

        Thematically, I see the Krauter dealing with conflicts regarding agency and how his surroundings coincide with who he is. This appears on the opening track, “Cowboy Chloe:” ‘Tip my hat and try to face it head-on but the cows make the cowboys in the end.’ Here and frequently elsewhere, Krauter looks at nature-versus-nurture ideas of surroundings and how those surrounding work into, and out of, his identity.

       Overall, I see this as another fantastic progression of his work. The album builds on the strengths of the first two projects while existing in its own space and is one of my favorite albums of the year so far. Check out Hoops’ interview with Melted and check out Routines if you haven’t already. Toss Up is also available for purchase via a slime green vinyl pressing that comes with a wooden plane glider. It’s pretty cool.