21st century indie folk music mixed with 19th century listlessness is a rare sound. In the beer halls of the late 1800s and early 1900s, newsboys and butter maids were kicking back, pressed up close to each other’s tweed blazers and crinoline skirts, gliding to soft, but energetic orchestral sounds that would’ve sounded something like Pale Young Gentlemen.
The band comes from Madison, Wisconsin and Black Forest (Tra La La) is their sophomore effort. The album beautifully bleeds with an upbeat Victorian era charm of chamber pop music. It is a soft, airy push of whimsical cellos, violins, violas and delicately plucked strings. Split in pace, the album offers fast numbers that’ll get the young kids up and out but also slower, dramatic tones for the introspective.
The strings are key to the sound of the album and are front and center in every track. They fill a wide array of genres from classical to cabaret, completely theatrical in nature where one might think they’re watching assorted scenes from a Broadway pop opera. Lead singer Michael Reisenauer‘s voice is a charming instrument unto its own, oscillating between a baritone and falsetto.
Standout track on the album is clearly “The Crook Of My Good Arm”, an Eastern European tinged folk rock number that’ll get your feet stomping, shoulders shaking and, in about 30 seconds, out of your seat, grabbing a partner and onto the dance floor, mimicking some sort of forgotten 1800s dance with the same vigor that the song throws at you. “Shadows/Doorways” is a fifty second instrumental of pure classical music. The untrained ear wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this track and a true 1800s symphonic gem.
Another favorite on the album is “Our History”. The first brush of sounds to your ears will swiftly remind you of Chris Martin. However, the song offers a lot more than such a trivial comparison. When the violin showers in followed by the youthful acoustic guitar, a nostalgic melody of puerile joy is created; fitting to the title of the track “Our History”.
It is worth noting that the album cover is a cropped image of a painting by Victorian era painter, Richard Dadd, fitting to the sound of the album. The work is titled “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke.”
Black Forest (Tra La La) was released by Science of Sound on October 7th.
02. I Wasn’t Worried
03. Marvelous Design
04. Goldenface, Morninglight
05. The Crook Of My Good Arm
06. Kettle Drum (I Left A Note)
08. Our History
09. Wedding Guest
10. We Will Meet
11. There Is A Place?
12. She’s All Mine, I Think
Written by: Ali Hussain