Tilly and the Wall's 2008 record O found the band revising and expanding their sound, relying less on the folky pop template that their first two albums used so well in favor of a harder, more punk-inspired approach that was both a little angrier and a little less effective for being so. At first. it seems that 2012's Heavy Mood is even more angry and aggressive as it leads off with two strident and over-amped dance punk songs ("Love Riot" and "Heavy Mood") that flatten out any subtleties in their sound and just pound the listener over the head with loud drums and over-the-top vocals. After this inauspicious start, things get better as the mood relaxes and the group returns to the kind of styles and sounds they are more equipped to deliver. The girl group ballad "All Kinds of Guns" shows off their bruised romantic side; "Echo My Love" is a nicely melancholy, new wave-inspired love song, and "Thicker than Thieves" is a galloping, heartfelt pop song that shows how well the electronic percussion can be blended with the tapdance beats they made their name on when they started. The band is definitely at their best on these kind of small scale, intensely personal songs that delve into real, somewhat desperate emotions; the kind that everyone has had at one time or another. When they stretch beyond this and start making big statements (like on "Love Riot" or the embarrassingly bombastic "Defenders," which ends the album in a blaze of children's vocal choruses), the group come off as patronizing and hollow. Luckily, these moments are contained at the beginning and end of the record and with the technology of the day, are easily skippable. Some judicious editing on the band's part would have made this a worthy follow-up to their first two excellent albums but as it stands, it's more of a confused and confusing record that is hard to recommend to anyone except fans who came on board when O was released. ~ Tim Sendra
Mojo (Publisher) (p.89) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[W]hen they hit their exuberant stride...they pull on legwarmers and dance the night and cold away."