Release Date: Feb 14, 2012
Record label: Tapete
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
With The Bird Is Coming Down to Earth, Seattle's the Soft Hills come into their own with a well-honed, softly psychedelic indie sound. Following an EP and their 2010 full-length Noruz, the group went through some lineup changes and made a decided effort to streamline their sound somewhat. Based around the tender yet unsettled voice of singer/guitarist Garrett Hobba, the songs have grown rich with continued experimentation.
The Soft Hills are a quartet out of Seattle whose new LP The Bird is Coming Down to Earth covers a range of musical sounds, from folk to psychedelic to ambient. Signed to Germany’s Tapete Records, the band comes across as a more pastoral Fresh & Onlys with some of Deerhunter’s epic dreaminess thrown in. Songs about death and mysticism are intriguing, and Matt Brown’s production work gives a sense of atmosphere, but the album is bogged down by tracks (“Return to Eden”, “It Won’t Be Long”) that feel aimless.
Seattle, WA foursome Soft Hills have a great deal going for them. Most striking is their ability to make their influences sound cohesive. Blending post-rock and folk isn't the easiest thing to do, but that to do so in such a seemingly effortless way is nothing to scoff at. Opening track, and first single, "Phoenix" is a fairly pleasant, straightforward homage to the Fleet Foxes' brand of folk rock that's en vogue right now, but the band are more interesting when they expand their sound.
Seattle's Soft Hills sound much as their name suggests- gentle, rolling, agrarian, a rural American landscape captured in the grainy, slightly blurred light of an early seventies road movie. “Kill the engine, we're slowing down,” runs the refrain of album opener 'Phoenix', while the bittersweet nostalgia of 'When We Were Young and Free' and the even-more downbeat 'Midnight Owls' build bridges between Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on one side and Galaxie 500 and Low on the other. High harmonies vie with subtle slide guitar and muffled drums in a vast, echoing space of unspecified sadness.