Woods remind me of The Shins. The Shins are a beloved band of mine and will always have a place in my heart, no matter how much of a prick main singer James Mercer has become. Drowned out vocals that wash over you like you’re being baptised was the masterful production that grew to inspire thousands light up Oh, Inverted World. Woods are a band that sit among the best of those thousands.
At Echo Lake is a little short, but I think if it was any longer it would just be wasted talent. The album is the right length for what it is. They’re songs about not caring, about not having anything to worry about. And that’s how the songs make you feel. In the song Deep, main singer Jeremy Earl sings “Sleep goes better without any care in the world”, following that life affirming verse with an oozing “ooOOooOOooOOoo” - This totally sums Woods up.
Mostly instrumental song, From The Horn, has so much going on. This is not a bad song but easily the worst on the album. It’s also the closest song to their last album, Songs Of Shame, which had more experimental phases throughout the 35 minutes. On At Echo Lake there are no nine minute songs that sound like those annoying mobile phone interferences with technology (ala, September With Pete). The songs are much more immediate and straight off have that certain glow, whereas Songs of Shame was slightly lacklustre.
The authenticity of Woods’ sound is very unique. They are simple campfire guitar riffs that sit in the middle of falsetto vocals and various other traits unique to Woods. They’re somewhat reminiscent of Akron/Family in a sense that they blow guitar riffs out of proportion, but in a good way, to their advantage. Basically, At Echo Lake becomes pretty much perfect three tracks in. Suffering Season is a joyous sing a long song that makes me feel so happy. There hasn’t been a song that’s made me feel like this for such a long time, despite dark concepts in the Lyrics.
I think that if I was as naïve as I was when I fell in love with bands like The Shins and Postal Service, I would feel the same way about At Echo Lake. It shares many traits as Oh, Inverted World. Hell, let’s face it, I am in love with At Echo Lake. But does that mean I’m still Naïve? I don’t care, It’s just a brilliant, joyful, indie-folk album. I think the reason I love it so much is because it’s so reminiscent of what I used to listen to that I get all nostalgic and memories of camping and drinking come flooding back.
It’s as simple as that. It’s perfect indie folk music that improves upon its predecessor. It’s freak-folk at it’s best. Woods prove that production doesn’t mean perfection and that simplicity goes a long way. Many bands try and fail at this type of music, but Woods make it seem so easy.