Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Record label: Sargent House
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Philly-based, indie folk rockers Good Old War's third studio outing serves up another spirited set of radio-ready, lovelorn, retro-pop gems. Part "Second Hand News"-era Fleetwood Mac and part Avett Brothers (with a little bit of Ian Matthews and Paul Simon tossed in for good measure), Come Back as Rain harkens back to the days (think mid-'70s) when tight harmonies, a pair of acoustic guitars, and some snappy production could land a band in the Top Ten. Commercial without being cloying, lyrically universal without coming off as redundant, songs like "Calling Me Names," "Better Weather," and the gorgeous ballad "Amazing Eyes" feel like they've been around for years, and their emotional resonance, especially considering the refined and polished presentation, is a testament to the group's natural pop acumen.
The Good Old War guitarist Dan Schwartz recently said in an interview, “The best way to write for harmonies is to have a melody that’s very sing-alongable. Is that a world? Sing-alongable?” Although Webster forgot to include that one in the dictionary, Schwartz, Tim Arnold, and Keith Goodwin have created the year’s best album for sing-alongs, filled with lovely three-part harmonies and delightful, unique indie-pop songs. The disc’s “beautiful day” cover art combined with the title, which rejects such weather, set up the dichotomy that prevails throughout Come Back As Rain’s 11 tracks.
Ah, the harmonies. If there was only one thing that I learned about Good Old War after listening to their first two LPs, their debut Only Way to Be Alone and their self-titled sophomore album, it’s that these three guys do vocal harmony like no other. The trio of Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold, and Dan Schwartz is simply incapable of not singing in unison.
There’s a pure simplicity to Good Old War’s music that’s hard to resist. The band builds its lovely acoustic-based music out of gorgeous harmonies, gently-played guitars and light percussion. The opening track offers a perfect example of what Good Old War does so well. “Over and Over” serves up airy vocals, strummy acoustic guitars and the pattering of percussions.
The success of Britain's Mumford & Sons has given hope to countless other acoustic pop outfits the world over, and this third full-length release from Good Old War is perfectly in tune with folk music's current mainstream resurgence. However, what this trio from Philadelphia, PA are offering, in spite of their rough-hewn hipster image, is nothing new and can be traced back to Barenaked Ladies through Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills & Nash and even the Kingston Trio. The most popular end of the folk spectrum has always intrinsically appealed to WASPs, and Come Back As Rain's jaunty odes to campus puppy love ("Amazing Eyes," "After The Party") are unflatteringly aimed at that demographic.