Ripped their personality to shreds
The Head and the Heart is a six-piece band born out of the 2009 Seattle pub scene. They self-released their debut album in 2009, which quickly sold out in local record stores. They signed with Sub Pop, which re-released the band’s debut album to the masses in 2011. Now, the band is about to release Living Mirage, which will be their fourth studio album.
Up until this point, the band had been known for their indie pop-folk sound a la The Lumineers or Fleet Foxes. However, Living Mirage sees the Seattle band turning the page to a new sound; they are using harder-hitting percussion, and taking out or toning down the folky instrumentation that used to permeate their music. As a result, Living Mirage becomes a more standard pop-rock affair than the band’s previous works.
Their debut album, The Head and the Heart, was overflowing with beautiful vocal harmonies, folky guitars and pianos and a rootsy attitude towards production and songwriting. In comparison, on Living Mirage, the harmonies are largely missing, and the production is overdone to the point where the listener cannot tell instruments apart. There are a lot of la-la choruses and whoa-oh-whoa hooks. The Head and the Heart have never been a very original band, but this is a new low. Their rootsy sound has been diluted to the point of total anonymity.
All aspects of the music are either forgettable or bad. As previously mentioned, drum beats are more prominent than ever. The one-two, one-two, one-two lumbering of the zombie kick-snare beat sucks the life out of tracks like “Running Through Hell” and “Against the Wall.” Lyrics are wholy unexciting, since each lyrical line has a predictable meter, and the concepts have been heard countless times. Handling lead vocal duties is the boy-girl duo of Jonathan Russell and Charity Thielen. While their voices are not the worst things ever, they contribute to the bland, anonymous atmosphere of the album.
Despite the band’s evident focus on making sentimental music, Living Mirage conveys no such emotions. The only feelings to be had from listening are bad ones. The sharp-edged drum beat on “Missed Connection” is obnoxious, and the vocal round on “Saving Grace” is laughably messy. If the band’s goal was to become as forgettable as possible, they succeeded with flying colors. The album is not recommendable to any audience.