Release date: July 1, 2008
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Sounds like: Hushed, haunting country folk; a darker Iron & Wine or the quieter moments of My Morning Jacket
This band of Northern Virginia musicians comes from influential hardcore stock, but since 2005 Pygmy Lush has allowed its members to focus on their infatuation with the shuffling simplicity of folk music. Although the band’s debut album Bitter River split the difference between raucous punk and quieter acoustic tunes, sophomore release Mount Hope is filled with hushed, sometimes barely audible lyrics, along with softly strummed acoustic guitars and slight droning echoes of the band’s earlier noise. But Pygmy Lush handles the majestic space of their backwoods tranquility with skill, pairing gritty intricacy on “Asphalt” with haunting numbers like “No Feeling” and “Red Room Blues,” which both resemble My Morning Jacket’s exploratory quiet rock. “God Condition” ever so slightly picks up the Pygmy Lush pace, allowing the nearly indiscernible vocals to emerge from a distorted haze; but the following song, the wonderfully jazzy title track, only acts as a teaser due to its far-too-short 1:30 running time. “Frozen Man,” “Hard To Swallow,” and “Dreams Are Class” hearken back to Neil Young’s lo-fi beginnings, while adding evocatively eerie layers to keep things firmly rooted in the 21st century, and “Concrete Mountain” inexplicably tosses junk percussion and exotic accordions into the mix. And just to keep any easily applicable tags from latching on to Mount Hope, “Butch’s Dream” waltzes off in a romping rockabilly direction, proving that Pygmy Lush has the wide-ranging chops to tackle any genre. Way below the surface for now, Pygmy Lush’s evocative folk musings might just bask in a much brighter light thanks to Mount Hope.