Blinding and puzzling! Philadelphian ensemble on the way to find out the source of infinite optimism.
“Here we go again, making room for change. Our branches multiply, regardless of falling leaves”: arriving on a crimson-tinctured guitar ripple, these lines from the ever-expansive “Brand New” seem to define determination just as well as the album’s title does. But the band who deliver it demonstrate split personality, and when, towards the record’s finale, singer Chrissie Loftus is stating, as if in timeless stasis, “If I were a song, I’d be like the leaves. I’d change all the time,” the link between foliage and development becomes rather confusing. It’s only a mirror of the ensemble’s music, though, as some of the pieces on display thrive on anxious, if muscular, funk where breaks into falsetto keep the listener on their toes, while other tracks exude art-rock aroma, the common denominator of it all being progressive motion.
This alone would be a good reason for strings to kick in, and for Jordan Berger’s bass and Tom Cullen’s drums run off the leash towards emotional catharsis as soon as the organ-linked ska behind the epic title cut and “AYA” throw Eastern patterns into the boiling melodic cauldron. Still, the heavy and hectic orchestral swirl of “Off The Tracks” comes as precursor to the sensual bossa nova “Bottom Of The Food Chain” whose acoustic flow is painfully elegant, yet “Love For Yourself” locates its aloof flutter in the chamber realm – disturbing, distorted perspective propelling distant thunder to the fore and pulling the dynamic turns back – and “Worth The Wait” wraps the result in a new layer of transparency. That’s also how Matt Hollenberg’s six strings take the samba-shaped “If You Were A Song” into the light, before curlicues of “Existence” emerge for all to see and admire.
It’s not an easy album; it requires quite a few spins to get in – but the result is rewarding. Three records into their career, the Philadelphians’ path feels right.