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Anathallo – Canopy Glow [Anticon]

June 23, 2009

It’s hard to look at the current decade with the eyes of the future. Not exclusively but the 70s are undoubtedly connected to punk [or pompous folk rock hmmm…], the 80s with the newborn popularity of synthesizers and in the 90s there was grunge, Britpop and the mainstream invasion of hiphop. Predicting the retrospective outlook on the noughties (this is not my favourite term for this decade but I haven’t heard a better suggestion yet) is not an easy task. But if not all then at least the latter part of this decade cannot escape the folk rebirth in all its shapes and sizes and thus Anathallo and their latest album are firmly caught up in the zeitgeist.

Not unlike the box office smash of the self-titled Fleet Foxes’ debut, Canopy Glow has drifted down from the vast mountainous outback of America, filled with sweet harmonies and melodrama. This is soundtrack music to sweeping footage taken from the air of evergreen forests, rocky hillsides and immense fields of corn, sunflowers and apple orchards.

Matt Joynt’s vocals take the lead. Often in falsetto, and most notably on ‘Cafetorium’, the band’s harmonies feel like the layers of plush mattresses the Princess and the Pea enjoyed beneath her. And there are true moments of unbeatable spine-tingling effect as on the breakdown of ‘Noni’s Field’ when bandmate Erica Froman pitches herself just a tad higher and runs a (metaphorical) highlighter pen over Matt’s lyrics in a way that’ll make your ears bleed with joy. Singing about death has never been so beautiful.

Canopy Glow is a celebration of nature juxtaposed against images of urbanity, the undoubted result of having toured the States 18 times before their second full-length release. Anathallo pepper their tracks with references to all types of flora and fauna and landscapes; people are hummingbirds, the ornithologist John James Audobon has a whole song named after him but they seem to spring from cracked cement, Cineplexes and old VHS tapes. Supported by a host of odd and resonant instruments this is modern Americana at its most poignant

[Originally reviewed for Bearded Magazine]

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