It’s always a treat to get acquainted with a new Woods record. Without fail, their music manages to transport the listener with their oft woozily intoned instrumentation, rich tonal palettes and Jeremy Earl’s hypnotic vocal style. Sometimes you feel as though their captivating compositions are coming from a serene and sunny California beach (in spite of their Brooklyn base), while others contain the perfect atmosphere for dinner parties you see depicted in film and t.v..
Perennial, the twelfth LP from Woods – who are edging ever closer to their twentieth anniversary as a band – is a tremendously illuminating and inviting body of work. Inspired by the process of looping guitar, keyboards and drums, which became something of a winter-based form of ritual sonic meditation for Earl, one can feel how imagining brighter days in the future spring and summer months informed some of the record’s brightest moments. Opening with the resplendent “The Seed”, there’s an engaging slumberous nature to the melody which is playfully punctuated with an almost bee-sounding guitar motif bumbling through the arrangement as though it were moving between a bed of vibrantly hued flowers, as we see on the LP’s artwork. It’s more than a brilliant way to introduce audiences to their latest work, and first in 3 years, and it also demonstrates how this is a band who have managed to make a name with their style and not seem as though they have ever struggled with being repetitive in their songwriting. And
while there is, across their discography, a certain comfort that comes with Woods’ familiarity and reliability with each release, the magic of listening to their records for the first time is never diminished.
Here, amidst the buoyant instrumentation are sentiments and darker soundscapes that starkly contrast against the otherwise happily-go-lucky feel to the loose ‘The Wind Again” and “Double Dream”, which has an air of Yo la Tengo in its breeziness. These contrasting moments lend a great sense of realism to Woods’ dreamlike sensibilities, particularly when we hear Earl intone, “Old enough to feel regret,” before noting “I’ve been let down / I’ve been depressed,” on the dynamic “Sip of Happiness”. This grounding in Woods’ songwriting allows the listener to feel as though they can belong in these songs with Earl as a relatable guide through this magical place to escape to.
Perennial is yet another expansive and kaleidoscopic body of work from Woods that is easy to return to and dig deeper into to unearth the hidden beauty in their cosmically striking arrangements.
Order Perennial by Woods HERE
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