Listen to HIRS’ powerful Friends. Lovers. Favorites. via NPR Music’s First Listen

+HIRS+ | photo courtesy of Get Better Records
HIRS | photo courtesy of Get Better Records

HIRS — or The HIRS Collective, as they’re calling themselves for the purposes of their new record — are loud. They’re loud in a way that catches you off guard upon first listen, no matter how hard you’ve mentally prepared for the force that’s about to hit you. The sheer intensity of their songs makes you need to listen over and over just in case you missed something — and now you can do just that, as HIRS’ new LP, Friends. Lovers. Favorites., is available to stream via NPR Music’s First Listen.

It’s the group’s first full-length record after a steady series of EPs, and they’ve certainly taken the term “full-length” to heart — it’s 20 tracks long. Granted, most of them are of the short, 30 seconds to a minute variety, but that doesn’t lessen their potency in the slightest. HIRS’ message comes through clearly — they’ve devoted their musical purpose to fighting violence agains the queer and trans communities, and on the new record, the unrest that’s spurred their activism is more urgent than ever.

Though the Philadelphia-based group prefers to maintain an air of anonymity and has no concrete lineup, the new record features a roster of noteworthy collaborators, including Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Alice Bag and more. Friends. Lovers. Favorites. opens with a scream — and you’ll hear plenty more of those throughout the record. Setting the scene for the journey of empowerment that the record embodies, on “Hard to Get” HIRS sings, “We’re not as weak as some of you may think…We’re through and stronger than you’ve considered.”

The record’s noise and energy is interspersed with brief, quiet moments of spoken word that are just as jarring as the louder bits — as Shirley Manson speaks on “Invisible,” “We do not care to be seen by you. You are neither once not noticed, or prioritized. How does it feel? We don’t care. We don’t hear you. We don’t see you. We don’t need you. You are nothing. You’re invisible. Invisible. Invisible.”

Friends. Lovers. Favorites. is out April 20 via Get Better and SRA Records. Listen to an early stream here via NPR Music.

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