With their 2018 album Mogic, Hen Ogledd evolved from the amorphous improvisations of their earliest phases into something resembling a more traditionally molded pop band. They didn't completely shake the wooly weirdness that initially defined the project, but incorporated it into structured songs that pitted hopeful melodies against noisy electronics and heady lyrical themes. If Mogic was Hen Ogledd dipping their toes into pop, its successor Free Humans is the band diving in headlong.
In one sense, Hen Ogledd's third album is just what you'd expect from a low-key clan of indie-pop darlings: It has shabby guitars, crafty hooks, and sing-songy campfire melodies, all warmly interwoven like a winter cardigan. Should you wish, you could listen to Free Humans on those terms alone, filing it among the dainty troves of labels like K Records. But in another sense--the one in which Free Humans is not only a catalog of heartbreak and minutiae, but also a sci-fi odyssey warning of political isolationism and climate apocalypse--it starts to feel quite unorthodox.