It's fun to imagine Hiccup's origin as a meet-cute story with a pop-punk twist. Hallie Bulleit and Alex Clute were first brought together to play in a made-for-TV house band, The LLC, on The Chris Gethard Show — the delightfully DIY and subversive public-access-turned-Fusion network show. As part of the band, Bulleit and Clute would perform short, punk-infused songs as transitional bumpers between all the comedy sketches, and shaggy themes that helped fuel the hilarious misfit vibe of Gethard's recurring characters and guests.
It was soon obvious to the two that they shared a musical connection that could be developed more fully without time constraints. So with both singing, Clute on guitar and Bulleit on bass — and adding drummer Piyal Basu — they formed a new band.
On Hiccup's debut, Imaginary Enemies, the band captures the same frenzied dynamic it displays on TV. Produced with Kyle Gilbride (formerly of Swearin', and producer of bands like Girlpool and All Dogs), the album is full of songs that clock in at just over two minutes — practically sprawling compared to those explosive, if all-too-brief, 30-second interludes. The songs benefit from the extra space for — let's say — a second verse, a blistering instrumental breakdown or maybe just another refrain.
"Neverwhere," the album's dynamic closer, exemplifies that balance, retaining Hiccup's knack for taut concision and turn-on-a-dime arrangements while unleashing scorching guitar distortion and breakneck drumming that lets the song's singalong pop hooks shine. A song about belonging, "Neverwhere" finds Bulleit searching for a calming space free of worry and harm, singing, "Wish I could make myself believe / It'd make it easier to breathe / Wish I could see with my eyes closed / a place where all good gone things go," with a heartfelt ferocity. It's an intoxicating jolt that embodies Hiccup's lightning-in-a-bottle creative energy.
Imaginary Enemies comes out March 24 on Father/Daughter Records.