Head With Wings 2021
American art-rockers soar above the noise and confusion to grasp a fuller picture of a person’s inner turmoil.
Hailing from New Haven, this ensemble know the value of quietness and nuance all too well to infuse their second EP with vertiginous dynamics that throws such qualities into sharp relief. Following up on the quintet’s debut mini-album “Living With The Loss” from 2013 and the collective’s lone longplay “From Worry To Shame” from 2018 which demonstrated the full scope of the Connecticuters’ progressive leanings, the three pieces on display, laid down before the Covid pandemic hit, have nothing to do with our current affairs. As a result, there an air of timelessness to the 18-minute record, and the whole existence of today’s individuum striving to release her or his potential – as much as the musicians themselves do.
That’s why, perhaps, “Of Uncertainty” isn’t lingering in order to construct the momentum, and Joshua Corum’s sweet, anguished voice enters the frame right away as acoustic strum and sparse drumming build tension slowly but surely, unleashing heavy passages in brief truculent bursts and letting Brandon Cousino and Mike Short’s guitar lace and riffs inflame vocal harmonies and clearing the field for mesmeric tranquility. This is where the serene drift and nervous throb of “Contemplating The Loop” start, even though Steve Hill’s bass and Andrew Testa’s drums are bound to keep the listener plugged into an array of exquisite, if sometimes art-rock-by-numbers, moments.
Still, the troubled panorama behind “In A House Without Clocks” has a metal sheen to it whose glimmer will blind everyone trying to hang on to a melody until the tune unfolds against the calm – only to usher the storm back in and land on a triumphantly unconvincing coda. Or, rather, a cliffhanger that, given this opus’ deferred issue and a non-so-distant appearance of the collective’s second full-lengther, should set the scene for a stronger impact.