Ok, let's be honest, the cover photo isn't exactly the most prepossessing you'll ever see, a Scandi-American acoustic synth roots -pop married duo comprising Shpresa Lleshaj (Stockholm) and Cole Randall (Minneapolis), his flowing white locks and hairy exposed chest conjuring 60s hippieish flower power love-in vibe visions. And it would be fair to say there is an element of that to the music, album Opener 'California' evoking a sort of West Coast Kate Bush with its metronomic rhythm and psychedelic swirls. However, a as that reveals, there's a beguiling blissful atmosphere to their music that casts them as a sort of hybrid between Angus and Julia Stone, First Aid Kit and Polyphonic Spree. The second track, the gently cascading 'You're Somebody Else' with hissed synth, circling guitars and Randell on hushed lead vocals is a gorgeous, hypnotic affair that lodges itself in your head. Lleshaj taking over on echoey vocals for 'We Will Never Be This Young' is a pulsing, soothing wash while the harmonised title track, born of an argument between them and with Lleshaj cooing her vocals, is equally relaxing, a sort of aural hot springs session in the snow capped mountains.
There's not a huge degree of musical variation between the tracks, more like delicate subtle shadings, but the cumulative effect is ethereally soothing, almost oriental at times (as with aspects of 'Sadness Is Taking Us Over') even if the lyrics balance the upbeat moments of relationships with the darker. Maybe it's me, but the acoustic fingerpicked 'Roses On Your Dress' with Lleshaj's echoey spacey vocals and the gathering swirl of synths put me in mind of a Jennifer Rush ballad, albeit at a lower register. Elsewhere, the undulating melody of the bittersweet 'Memories of Us', the sonorous piano chords and backwards loops on 'When Pleasure Fails' and the gently caressing 'Slip Of The Tongue' are all equally effective mood pieces. Closing with the fragile, ice-melting ambience of a quiveringly sung 'Mother and Child', this won't be for all musical sensibilities and cynics should probably avoid, but given a hot, balmy summer's day, the fragrance of magnolia and a cool white wine, this is a perfect soundtrack. Check out their Bandcamp site too and listen to their covers of Tim Buckley's 'Song To The Siren' and Munford and Sons' 'Hopeless Wanderer'.
|Front Country: Other Love Songs||Underhill Rose: Live|
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