Over the course of ten years, a litany of splits and EPs, a beloved full length, and even a couple break-ups, Northeastern fuzz-rock heroes Ovlov have earned a loyal cult following—all while staunchly following their own path at every turn. Now, the band has returned with their sophomore full length, Tru, an album five years in the making that finds the band deftly maintaining their endearingly steadfast identity while also reckoning with the inevitability of change.
Made up of brothers Steve (guitar/vocals) and Theo (drums) Hartlett — along with their childhood companions Michael “Boner” Hammond Jr. (bass), and Morgan Luzzi (guitar) — Ovlov’s musical DNA is rooted in the kind of familiarity that can only come from real friends playing together. It’s largely that chemistry that steers the band’s approach: if it doesn’t feel right for everyone, don’t do it. It’s a simple idea, but with countless musicians vying for an audience, the extra-musical hurdles of being in a band can all too easily impact choices about everything from touring, to friendships, to the songs themselves. By the time Ovlov released their 2013 debut full length, am, the band had already achieved their modest initial goals. The album would substantially grow the band’s profile, but the more doors that began to open the less the band started to feel like Ovlov. The pressure to maintain the momentum began to take its toll, or as Steve simply puts it "we just started to realize we weren’t cut out for it.”
After am, the band found themselves physically and creatively spent, and called it quits. The members returned to their personal lives, kept busy with other bands, and years began to pass. Steve explains, “We never wanted to force it, or do it if we didn’t all want to.” But despite this—or perhaps because of it—Ovlov’s fanbase never dissipated. There’s an inadvertent quality control that comes with refusing to be a band unless everyone is completely invested; it’s the promise that new material will only exist if and when the band fully believes in it. “There are so few things in life that you can control but a rock band is one of those things,” says Steve. "If being in a band is supposed to be fun, why would we ever do anything we don’t want to?”
It’s that desire for some small semblance of control against life’s many unpredictable changes and challenges that shapes Tru. The result is an album that maintains Ovlov’s undeniable gift for buoyant melodies but with a more world weary approach. Tru finds the band turning to their music to make sense of everything else: songs dealing with personal loss, how to do the right thing as a band, and figuring out what’s worth holding on to and what needs to be left behind—all housed within the band’s signature cacophony of Big Muff pedals and infectious hooks. Tru isn’t just worth the wait, it’s a proof that, while there may be a lot of bands, there is only one Ovlov.