Whistle Peak - Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls
Curiously so, I noticed a few days ago that I had ventured out of my standard "reviewing" mindset and drifted into "repeat to my own pleasure" territory. The culprit for my slothful ways is Whistle Peak, previously unknown to me before being tipped off via email that their sophomore release Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls was dropping on Valentine's Day. To that end and, whether or not it was intended, much of the album's mood and melody can easily be attributed to some of the high spirit of that day of love hoped for and love shared. Despite numerous spins, I have a hard time nailing down similar bands (I usually get hung up on this for our little TIYL feature found on every band's page here). Suffice to say, hints of folk, electric pop and a variety of other influences are evident, but ultimately this has been a refreshingly unique experience, speaking only for myself.
As the assortment of blips and bass licks bring opener "Big and Bright" to life, I'm reminded of a more down-tuned and unexpecting Animal Collective, before the track streamlines itself into more standard trajectory. Finding the sweet spot for any band is a challenge of all of my reviews; that point where a musician or group of musicians finds a groove and falls back on it repeatedly throughout a record. Whistle Peak have a variety of them; instanced in both the more structured and straightforward (Hurry Hurry, which is fantastic, Wings Won't Behave, which is a choice single, Us Two Can Play, which is borderline creepy) and the more surreal and experimental. It is these latter moments that grasp you, the "amulets" the band refers to in their press kit. "Elephants" is an early example, quietly toying with a fuzzy melody before flooding the soundscape with a big, bombastic repeating crescendo. "Play The Ghost" demonstrates how ninja-esque the band is at crafting honest pop music; with a sound and style reminiscent of Gnarls Barkley, equally catchy and fluid. This is a band with tricks up their sleeves, where an introduction is only a tease and an outro all the same. You'll find that, by the end of Half Asleep, whatever expectations you came with have only been added to.
For as good as it all is, there seems to be so much more a collection of skilled players such as this can offer. Perhaps these softly whispered promises were kept on their debut record, or perhaps they're just building their way to a point where it all comes together. Whatever the case may be, Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls is more than enough to keep those of us inclined towards it's slick and sweet ways content in the meantime. This album doesn't grow on you so much as fills a groove it was meant for all along.
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