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Album Review: Tall Heights – Neptune

2 min read
Photo: Deacon Communications

As with any music genre, cyclical tendencies in folk music seem to appear unavoidably in more ways than others. The psychedelia groovings of the sixties have been reinterpreted in many of the melancholic waves of the nineties much like the funk-driven boogie aura lives in some contemporary pop music of today as it did in the meatier period of the expeditious seventies. If the last few years have shown anything it’s that this ‘poppy folk’ sound is more popular, safe, and constant. At a glance, Tall Heights’ Neptune serves as a blind offering to the neo-folk movement of recent times and a deeper allowance confirms this ambiguous truth.

Tall Heights - NeptuneWithout a proper label, it could easily be mistaken for another alt-J record. The two bands are almost identical in sound design, vocal harmonies and even the band’s physical structure (a three piece). This trend in folk music begs the question of just how common true originality is. While Neptune harbours its fair share of rational tracks dipped in a sort of musical purity, at more times than others it feels forced, heavily remixed and regurgitated. Attesting to this obviousness are the track’s Horse To Water and Backwards and Forwards. The use of a punchy percussion stability in Backwards and Forwards garners an attention lost to the anticipated vocal harmonies. The plucked guitar notes do well in generating a murky ambience of humble tidings though the overall feeling is lacklustre at best. Two Blue Eyes utilises the same vocal warmth as breakbeatish drums perpetuate a solemn and noble boldness – creating a pretty decent song. A swift reconcile lingers inside Cross My Mind – a twisting electronic illuminatory piece that swirls around kind croonings gentle and sweet. Percussion elements have been replaced by fuller bass and key tones, as they intertwine with one another underneath alluring chanted echoes. The truest form of unhinged and totally exclusive creativity on Neptune, however, lays within the album’s final track Wayfarers. It’s a dark step into complexity with a series of expressionist colour splashes. An explosion of torment and love, beauty and madness all told in a two-minute ride. Guitar string flicks and piano licks transpose over vocals harmonies unsure and nervous – somehow succeeding to reach the soul through a process of vulnerable listening.

Regardless of the obvious small shortcomings, the album is far from a bad record. The band have a fundamental stabilisation of fluidity and genuine charisma – though perhaps at times this was lost in reimagining existing sounds instead of unleashing an exclusive spirit of their own. They still, contrary to this, deliver a record with vast amounts of pride and treasured contentment.