As if to nudge its way through the darkness on the back of a humble guitar’s gentlest melody, we’re bid a hesitant hello by the strings in “The Luck” as we start the tracklist in Grey Fields’ Vesna. There’s a feeling of bashfulness to the beat-free ballad that ensues, but it won’t stop a warm vocal from whisking us away with its powerful harmony, which on its own is almost too big for the track it’s contained within. This ninety-second intro is a good buffer for the full-board magic of “Weather the Storm” and a radio-ready slab of alternative folk in “Mines and Tunnels,” but don’t be fooled by the theatrics – this is a band focused more on the music than they are the mundane fireworks any artist can add into a record after the fact.
Truthfully, nothing in Vesna sounds like it was created external to the other material in the tracklist; if anything else were the case, I doubt “Mines and Tunnels,” “Maybe My Next Day” and even the instrumental bridge “Whistle While You Work” would sound so refreshingly focused and efficient. The first half of this album is so strategically made, so conservatively fashioned even, that there’s little doubt in my mind as to whether or not a lot of time and effort went into refining even the most subtle of details in the music. This isn’t just a record but an experience meant to encapsulate something so much bigger than the average pop affair can illustrate.
“Halfway Home” is my favorite song on the LP specifically for the reason that it rejects every aesthetical parameter you would ever set in front of it. Its strings dance with a bluesy-like irony that presses against the whispered lyrics ever so begrudgingly, implying frustrations as great as the harmony that soon bubbles up to the surface of the mix. “Palm Trees” cleans of the melodic structure of this track and extends it into a five-and-a-half-minute folk song made of pure physicality, but this doesn’t overshadow the total zaniness of “Ineffable” at all – the opposite, actually. If continuity in progressive circumstances is your thing, Vesna just might be the perfect album to join your collection before the summer season has concluded.
“Zero Sum Game” forms a psychedelic-tinged void which “Every Now and Then and Always” fills over several retro movements that recall Britpop, shoegaze, noise pop, and even Americana all without really trampling on the sonic integrities of any one particular artistic school in their most virginal form. When the music fades away in a texturally heavy haze, the echoes of the narrative just constructed before our very ears are just beginning to sink in, as is the crushing talent of this band as a collective unit. With or without the addition of the record’s haunting guest cello parts, Vesna feels like the kind of alternative watershed we haven’t seen or heard much of in a generation, and the timing of its arrival couldn’t be better for the musicians who made it so seductive in the first place.
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