Frankly, this is a fairly mammoth debut; something like Ann Arbor’s answer to Ok Computer but tweaked and kicked with a hard-juking post-punk meets dense and dreamy operatic pop tinged with a Greenwood-inspired-guitar-torched flamenco-rock shake and stomp. At its best moments, it’s downright exciting to listen to based just on the various turns taken (“Tommy Pays The Rent” seems to start as any sunny driving indie-pop ballad but blows up into an anthemic harmonized chorus and winds up having three different guitars swing in on vines of furiously strummed solos). The opening guitars and plodding beat of the piano-pushed “Broken” sound something akin to the somewhat ferocious/somewhat white-noise-calming roar of rushing cars on a distant freeway heard from the not-yet-far-enough escaped fields at sunset, as the mellifluous vocals put such a brooding tinge of meditation into the heart.
And, yes, lots of the tracks here are like this – going for the jugular and dressing the soundscape with even the most subtle yet so effective atmospherics of cymbal rattles or retreating surf-toned guitar refrains that always regroup after a chorus and start building off of the revving drum pummel and the yearning moan and coo of the vocals, building and building to that epic ceiling-disintegrating big pop sound of flashing northern lights and shooting stars and single-tear-dropped lonely night drives back to your bed in a heartbroken folk-born/rock respite. That it took the band a few years and a few tries to piece this together feels evident – as it, at times, plays out like a movie of Wes Anderson-esque meticulousness of frame (of quiet-to-loud verse-chorus bases or the panning through of transition/intro-type 90-second statements) and arrangement (with mandolins trading off space with more guttural pop elements like hand claps to more face-melting math-rock head-spinning guitar solos), all the while whirled and roused with these head-swimming ear-mashing, eye-widening harmonized choruses. And they balance it with some softer downbeat piano ballads for quieter, more solemn statements. Cues come from all over, Latin pop, Spanish guitar, British pop, atmospheric rock, singer/songwriter folk… Spanish bull-fighting, even.