Sunday, May 28th, 2017

National Review: The Head and the Heart stay too still

Posted on November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
By dkelly

Let’s Be Still, released by The Head and the Heart, is buried in the folk/rock sound that has become so common with indie music. The tracks on this album are good, but nothing new is being added to the genre. A formula for success that has worked with so many other bands is being used again.

The instrumentation on this album is extremely detailed. Ambient drums are matched with melodic bass lines, and single-note piano parts are doubled by reverberated electric guitar. Lead vocals are backed up by ragged harmonies, a classic folk technique. Acoustic guitar, often finger-picked, and banjo are used to add a richer texture to the band’s overall sound. All of the instruments sound good together and are played very well, but something is missing. It’s just too predictable. Tracks sound over-produced. Overly meticulous arrangements sound as if The Head and the Heart are in a musical rut.

Some tracks are especially representative of this album’s shortcomings. “Shake,” with loud drums and a chord progression standard for indie and pop songs, is an example. A catchy melody and an upbeat rhythm sound exactly like they are supposed to, but that’s the problem. This unpredictability robs listeners of the excitement involved with hearing something different.

“These Days are Numbered,” consisting of only voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica, sounds raw and natural. A waltz-like rhythm is played in a laid-back manner and harmonica adds to this tune’s gritty and unrehearsed texture.

Perhaps to enjoy Let’s Be Still, listeners should lower their expectations, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, this album is great as a piece of music that steadily continues what has already been done. These songs are in no way bad; they just don’t stand out in the plethora of new indie music that is released regularly.