In Greek mythology, Hesperus was the evening star. To Phoenicians, Hesperus is an experimental hip-hop outfit combining the talents of MC/DC (mic), JD (guitar, keys, drums) and Gimpheart (synths, electribe, kaoss pad). You know it’s going to be an interesting time when the sampling at the start of “Paycheck” kicks in. There is an attention to fun dance grooves and lyrics that celebrate “Andrew Jackson snacks,” like Funyuns and a 30 pack. It’s an absolutely intoxicating anthem about living paycheck to paycheck.
“Relaxed Rapper” starts with a woozy cough syrup vibe and never allows you to get your sea legs. It feels like you’re on the light rail after accidentally mixing Vicodin and Klonopin, with echoes of Portishead on someone else’s headphones. “Lost in Thought” tackles racism and oppression with three and a half minutes of social and self-awareness and a rave-up track backing it. Meanwhile, “Smoking a Cig” seems to take aim at all things bourgeois (well, maybe not all) with a Krautrock-synth background. It’s pretty amazing, albeit brief. The jazzy backdrop of “Song I Wrote at Work” features Austin Rickert on sax, and it’s another ode to middle-class roots mixed with college hipster heights.
“Louis Armstrong” features vocals by Mystic Hightower, and it’s more synth-heavy than you’d expect with a title like that, but still a solid centerpiece to the album. It floats seamlessly into “Daydream About Sleeping,” addressing alienation in modern society and sleep as a form of escape, complete with a sing-along bit. Nuances are what Hesperus is good at, and “Subtleties” is no different for that reason. “Aggression” rocks like early Faith No More with a little RATM, while “Love Me Tender” closes out the album with some psychedelic indie-folk poetry, because why the hell not? Dark Corners in My Circle is a masterful debut from a crew that likes to take risks and find new grooves.