Release Date: Jul 15, 2016
Record label: The End
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Heliotropes’ 2013 debut, A Constant Sea, was a dark, messy pleasure. Fronted by Jessica Numsuwankijkul, this all-female Brooklyn quartet seemed to be forging an identity through trial and error. After covering Roky Erickson’s “I Walked with a Zombie” and Nirvana’s “Negative Creep” in their early days, the band arrived at a sludgy attack of fuzzed-out guitars and murky production for its first album, suggesting an unwholesome injection of Black Sabbath into the mix.
Heliotropes' second album, 2016's Over There That Way, sounds like the work of a very different band than their 2013 debut, A Constant Sea, and with good reason. With the exception of guitarist, songwriter, and group leader Jessica Numsuwankijkul, no one from that first album appears on the follow-up, and a crew of nine different players back Numsuwankijkul on these sessions (two of whom are now part of the group's official lineup, guitarist Ricci Swift and bassist Richard Thomas). Beyond the different set of musicians, Over There That Way backs off a bit from the big, grungy guitar attack of A Constant Sea in favor of a relatively poppier and more easygoing approach (though "War Isn't Over" demonstrates Numsuwankijkul can still bring forth that monolithic guitar tone when it's useful).
The melancholy, muddied psych rock of Heliotropes’ debut A Constant Sea was an unconventional fusion of husky grunge riffs, layered female harmonies, and droning shoegaze intervals—a bog of musical relics dating back to the doo-wop era. Rather than dig around the muck for new sounds to exhibit on follow-up Over There That Way, however, frontwoman Jessica Numsuwankijkul has broken off from her former bandmates, hired a crew of sonic landscapers (shifting from an all-female to a majority-male group in the process), and converted the auditory morass into a mildly overgrown meadow. The album rests on newly created pop territory that’s established, comfortable, and tediously shallow.