The Album Leaf - Between Waves

by James Weiskittel Rating:7 Release Date:2016-08-26

The Album Leaf originally began back in 1998 as a vehicle for singer/songwriter Jimmy LaValle’s eclectic songs, but has slowly morphed over the years into a real-life band of sorts, expanding upon LaValle’s original vision with a more collaborative approach and an incredibly strong live show.  Five albums of ambient, post-rock-leaning songs later (culminating with 2010’s excellent a Chorus of Storytellers), the Album Leaf has returned from a brief hiatus with Between Waves, a record that finds the band in promising form and picking up right where they left off.

Opening with pulsing electronic palpitations slowly giving way to a brooding synth line and a heavily washed out trumpet, “False Dawn” does a fine job of reintroducing the band while establishing the sonic template for much of what is to come.  “Glimmering Lights” features a cleverly sparse guitar line while an understated vocal finally appears on the third track (and first single) “New Soul”, a dreamy, brooding song that perfectly demonstrates the most song-oriented aspects of this project.

Other standouts include the meandering drone of “Wandering Still” and the shimmering guitars of “Lost In the Fog”.  The album saves its best for last however with the title track, a percussively pensive number that slowly unravels the album’s strongest melody.  Between Waves (both the song and the album) is an impressively grand statement for a band who more often than not deal in the currency of understatement.

While the label switch from the Indie bastion Sub-Pop to the more metal-oriented Relapse had left many fans wondering if the Album Leaf had decided to embrace a new sound, suffice it to say that the band’s sonic template remains largely unchanged and bears little reflection of said move.  In fact, Between Waves is yet another solid addition to the Album Leaf’s canon; a release that balances the band’s disparate elements with a workmanlike precision that will undoubtedly satisfy longtime fans.

 

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