Thursday, February 09, 2012

WHISTLE PEAK Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls

The emerald green waters upon which the couple float on the front of ‘Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls’ reminds me of a copper sulphate-saturated lake in North Wales I saw as a child: a welcoming, brightly coloured pool of mineral-enriched balminess. The Louisville electro-folk of Whistle Peak is a similarly buoyant and luxuriant experience: eleven tracks of melancholy-tinged Vaudevillian alt-pop floating on banjos, xylophone and egg-shaker with washes of electronic flutter and mechanical scrape that soothes and surprises.

At the gentler end of the album’s spectrum ‘Sleepy Pants’ is an unhurried early morning stretch of the arms, a mellow half-asleep, half-awake lullaby. ‘In A Boat On A Lake’ chimes and bobs with carefree calypso-flavoured contentment on strummed ukulele, wobble-board and brushed drums. Elsewhere ‘Us Two At Play’ is darker and more ponderous, with metallic twanging guitars over mysterious rasps and rattles, like a poppier version of Califone. ‘Hurry Hurry’ is infectiously downbeat, the sound of a troupe of sad-faced sideshow barkers who know no-one is listening but persevere with their morose melodies and pots-and-pans percussive beats regardless.

This is the sophomore release from the Kentucky quintet (David Boston, Billy Petot, Mike Snowden, Jeremy Irvin and – missing from the above photo - Garrett Crabtree) coming four years on from their debut and being my first introduction to the band. But what a delightful introduction. At first listen these “children’s stories told by grown men” appear almost unremarkable but the album’s curious combination of old and modern, of acoustic and electronic, of dreamy and dark provides a deep tug on the head and the heart-strings. It’s subtle but sure-footed, introspectively glum but also strangely celebratory and at various points reminds me of Panda Bear, Beirut, Joe Henry, Eels and Tuung. ‘The Laws’ closes the album, a gorgeous undertow of deep soul melancholia combined with a suppressed sense of triumph, all in a lo-fi happy-sad shuffle. And it only makes we want to float off on another boat-trip around Echo Falls.

Hurry Hurry - Whistle Peak by FollyOfYouth

In A Boat On A Lake - Whistle Peak by FollyOfYouth

Whistle Peak Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls [BUY]

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