February 2, 2023
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Life & Culture

Review: The Head and the Heart tugs at listener’s heartstrings

The Head and the Heart

"Signs of Light"

Released on Sept. 9, The Head and the Heart’s newest record, “Signs of Light,” signals a shift from the band’s traditional folksy roots as they enter the realm of straightforward indie pop.

Formed in Seattle in 2009, The Head and the Heart quickly gained notoriety after their self-titled album in 2010 and sophomore LP “Let’s Be Still” in 2013. They soon became a festival favorite, gracing stages at festivals like the Newport Folk Festival, Governor’s Ball, Firefly and Coachella. The band previously mastered feel-good indie folk, coloring its songs with bright acoustic guitar, down-home harmonies and soaring fiddle lines, but the group’s new album seems to have left much of that folksiness behind.

“Signs of Light” stays true to its name, as it has an upbeat and optimistic feel overall. The first track, “All We Ever Knew,” is especially sunny with its infectious “la-la-la” hook and gang vocals. The fiddle line toward the end of the song is reminiscent of the folk influence the band established itself with, but this piece, in particular, is unmistakably pop.

Though the album is strong as an entity, parts of it sound slightly canned compared to the band’s earthier, past releases. Production-wise, it is definitely more fleshed-out and polished than “Let’s Be Still,” and though the quality is great, the group’s perfectionism seems to have taken away much of the raw warmth they used to offer.

Yet, there are moments of brilliant sincerity, like in “Oh My Dear,” a slower and more minimalistic piece, which features just guitar and vocals. The reverb-heavy production allows the listener to drift away as harmonies build and soar. “Oh My Dear” transitions directly into the more energetic “I Don’t Mind,” which has a subtle disco feel because of its beat and use of electric keys.

All artists experiment with their sound, and The Head and the Heart is no exception. Though many fans might be disillusioned by the band’s newfound dance-pop sound, the album is well-produced and full of catchy songs. The 13-track LP contains some gems, and despite some breaches in originality, it is energetic and easy to listen to. “Signs of Light” definitely satisfies the feel-good festival fix of the fall season.