Lo-fi and lovely
For an album with the title Nothing in Rambling, it sure seems like Helvetia does a lot of roaming around. Upon first listen to the album, the Seattle-based band’s eighth studio release, is the perfect soundtrack for driving down a dark, interminable highway, fitting for the hazy, twisting sounds of Jason Albertini and company.
Nothing in Rambling feels like it’s constantly in the midst of something; even the opening track, “Pumpkin Rose,” begins in medias res, as if the band had already been playing, and we only come in during the middle of its meandering performance. The song moves at a sedate pace, mimicking the slow, circuitous movement of an aimless traveler with its ambling percussion, shuffling bass and smooth guitar melodies.
Much of the album has this sort of in-between, indeterminate feeling. The muted vocals and fuzzed out guitars of “RyBro” and “Old Dirty Rockers” saunter past, running into the melancholy running bass on “A Mirror.” Halfway through the album, Helvetia perk up on “Stay Wild” with pulsing percussion, a rich acoustic guitar underpinning subtle retro synths. “Stay Wild” is also the most experimental track on the album, shifting between rhythms and styles, suddenly picking up and dropping tempo, sliding into a bright, quirky merengue of sorts before subsiding into the organ-synths and cool, catchy melodies of “Wait.” The band experiments with rhythm again on “Nettles,” letting the percussion and electric guitar collapse into a sudden crescendo of noise and pounding drums again and again.
Nothing in Rambling proves, ironically perhaps, that there is something in rambling. Even if it’s not much more than a few moseying melodies, a few transitory tracks that come and go without much fuss, lo-fi and low maintenance, strolling subtly by.