The Soft Hills – Departure
As a fan of their 2012 release, The Bird Is Coming Down To Earth, I was glad to hear Seattle band The Soft Hills released a new album in March, Departure.
It’s been a tough couple years for the band (a quick look at their website turned up tales of sickness and complete band fall out), so Departure seems like an apt title; principle songwriter Garrett Hobba showed great resolve in leaving all that behind and carrying on with the project.
Departure has a time capsule feel, with songs serving as vignettes of the band’s transition. Opening track “Golden Hour” jumps out of the gate, albeit at a canter, which is fast for The Soft Hills. The Song has a drive and edge that is unfamiliar but refreshing, as if your typically even-keeled friend just needed to vent for a minute.
Calmness returns, though, as the album tumbles into the band’s familiar sways and cadences while the vocal ether builds through lush, layered falsetto choruses.
“Black Flower” leans back towards the softer sounds I remember from 2012. It has a dark mood, but the spaced out slow jams and falsettos are easily recognizable for those who are already familiar with the band. Fans of Rosebuds, Blonde Redhead, or even Cults might also relate to this track, which sometimes makes me strain for a high note that’s out of my range when I sing new favorite line, “even flowers look black in the night.”
“The Fold” opens softly with minimalist orchestration and haunting vocals that gather and grow to a glow that then drops into the next track while “White Queen” is a gentle river of a song, with airborne vocals blowing downstream.
With the lineup change I expected more rough edges but the fuller sound on Departure fills up the room nicely. Having fresh eyes for a project may have resulted in a clearer vision.
Overall, the album sounds great and the songs have a nice polish to them. – (7/10)