By Danielle Shields
February 07, 2013
It has been exactly a year since The Soft Hills released their debut album, The Bird Is Coming Down To Earth, in January 2012. The indie-folk band have always been focused on guiding the listener on a journey; all you need to hear is ‘Phoenix’ to know that, and their new album, Chromatisms,continues down this surrealist route. Their psychedelic inclinations for making music make you feel as though you have been locked up in a dream without any escape. Even titling the record Chromatisms suggests an exploration through civilization, and that is what they have hoped to achieve; to detail the human unconscious.
The Seattle/Washington quartet have created ten songs that will either absorb or bore you; it’s all subject to personal disposition and your emotions at the time. As a whole their experimentation with psychedelic melodies is a slow-burner which you will probably feel more inclined to listen to before you sleep, as opposed to using it as an alarm clock.
‘Riding High’ is a positive start to the album which offers a more firm simple melody with an array of meaningful lyrics. It’s one of those songs you can imagine listening to on a road trip in the middle of the fields alongside the likes of Radiohead and Fleet Foxes. This strong start is continued with ‘Sweet Louise’, the first single taken from the album. You can see why it has been given single status due to its fast rhythm and the clarity of the lyrics, which imbues it with the feel of literature being recited.
This high turns suddenly low when the ambient element comes into full focus. The album would have worked well being a soundtrack to an indie movie as the peaceful tracks are something you might not choose to listen to unless there are visuals coinciding with them. ‘Marigolds’ is a song that, even if you have earphones in and the volume turned up to full, you would still find it difficult to become lost in the music as nothing captures your attention. ‘Payroll’ is another one you might consider skipping, unless you are lost in space or alone in the jungle.
You can’t doubt that The Soft Hills do make some artsy and beautiful attempts. There’s the slow starting ‘Un’ which you sense is going to have a liberating outcome and it does by turning into a spine-numbing pleasure of anguish. Then there’s the letter to the moon, ‘Dear Mr. Moonlight’, that you can’t help but be taken away by. The last song ‘Desert Rose’ is a contrasting acoustic number that works well for the album as it feels more real than otherworldly.
Although Chromatisms does have some perks, especially the more catchy and powerful ‘Sweet Louise’ and ‘Mighty River’, this is more of an album of relatively pleasant background music and lacks the longevity to really have a lasting effect.