With Light and With Love

Written by: BV on 19/04/2014 17:08:28

As far as psychedelia-tinged folk goes, Woods can easily be classified as something of an institution within the newer breed of bands that tip their hats in the general direction of San Francisco circa 1965-1967. Having released numerous full-length albums since 2005, Woods’ work ethic seems to be as undisputable as their reputation for being eerily consistent in terms of quality. This consistency is, however, also something that might come to work against them in the future as the consistency might prevent them from taking the chances needed in order to release a genuine masterpiece.

Opening with the upbeat “Shepherd”, Woods’ consistency immediately seems to shine through. “Shepherd” is a predominantly a smooth-sounding folk-pop song that occasionally dips into a small pool of psychedelia, only to return with the surreal sounding slide fills that occasionally honors the track with its presence. As always, the strength of Woods’ is found in the pure delicacy of the soundscape – from their first recordings up to this very polished album, the soundscape is thought through and never quite seems cluttered in spite of the many, many layers of small sounds occasionally popping up. – Effectively leaving plenty of room for the reverb-soaked vocal harmonies to shine in the brightest, most enticing way.

On “Moving to the Left”, Woods’ dabble with a track that most would probably call their obvious stab at mainstream stardom as the poppy, upbeat soundscape is centered around the finely crafted song structure without never really entering any far-out territories. However, as with all of Woods’ discography, there seems to be a rather undefinable line between what is defined as Woods as they should and as they shouldn’t sound like. Personally, this track is one of my favorites off “With Light and With Love” as the poppy soundscape does exactly what I expect from Woods - emphasizes melody and superior craftsmanship whilst occasionally dabbling with sounds commonly associated with psych, such as the subtly lurking wah-wah sounds and the mildly overdriven lead-guitar which is placed playfully on top of the soundscape, living its own life whilst interacting with the rest of the track in perfect unison.

As I mentioned earlier though, Woods are hardly taking any chances here – leaving much of the album to come off as something quite familiar, albeit slightly different. “It feels strange/ It feels the same” they sing on “Moving to the Left”, which is exactly the feel I get off of this record. It’s nothing new, albeit the songs are still discernible from the rest of the growing discography. However, this is not Woods’ masterpiece. Far from it, as “Bend Beyond” or “At Echo Lake” could be far better contenders for that spot, at this point. I have faith in them though, and one day they might abandon their safety and comfort, go out on a limb and either crash magnificently or create their defining piece of work. I’ll be waiting anxiously.

Download: Moving to the Left, With Light and With Love, Shepherd, Leaves Like Glass
For The Fans Of: White Fence, Mechanical Bird, The Fresh & Onlys
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 15.04.2014

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