Release Date: Sep 9, 2016
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Indie Folk
Seattle folk-rock artisans the Head and the Heart have always been admirably honest about their rustic notions of musicality, celebrating uncluttered craft, homey detail and vérité revelation. You can still hear it on their third LP – "drawn to that sorta library magic," they sing beautifully over an acoustic weave. Yet Signs of Light also sees them beef up their sound with sweeping rock guitars and radio-aware production that can sometimes feel overblown (see the Mumford-size stomp of the title track).
On their third album, 2016's Signs of Light, Seattle natives the Head and the Heart have taken the leap from melodic indie folk with Americana tendencies into full-blown radio-friendly pop. Signed to a major label (Warner Bros. ) for the first time and working with producer Jay Joyce (who had previously been at the controls for albums by Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, and Keith Urban), the Head and the Heart have added several layers of gloss to their sound, and stripped back some of the most rustic aspects of their music.
A lot of people might have been taken in by The Head and The Heart on the basis of their first record; it’s understandable if their then-burgeoning fanbase thought they were something else. Their self-titled debut was a delight; all ramshackle charm, with harmonisation gorgeous enough that you could forgive their routine lapses into Americana cliché - all ‘whiskey rivers’ (“Down in the Valley”) and ‘watchin’ the wind blow through the front yard’ (“Heaven Go Easy on Me”). They were signed to Sub Pop, who seldom put a foot wrong, and toured the UK with the biggest names indie rock has to offer - Death Cab For Cutie and My Morning Jacket, to name a couple.
In their brief history, The Head and the Heart have rapidly ascended to the highest realms of the new alt rock hierarchy. It’s a status they richly deserve, not because of any hype or happenstance, but because they create a sound so exuberant, so exhilarating, that the instant impression it creates in the listener thrusts it forward and makes the music impossible to ignore. Signs of Light is not only a terrific album, it’s one that creates an unshakeable impression immediately at the outset, a series of songs that stir the senses and soothe them at the same time.