The new album from Heliotropes, Over There That Way, out today via The End Records, is the sort of record that deserves attention firstly for offering up something that blurs the lines between genres. Thanks in no small part to leader Jessica Numsuwankijkul's vocals, the cuts here alternately swirl and rage with a great deal of emotion and subtlety.
If opener "Normandy" offers up something that's a tiny bit like a single from a band on Slumberland Records -- maybe early Veronica Falls? -- it's the expansive playing of the other musicians here -- drummer Gregg Giuffré, bassist Richard Thomas, and guitarist Ricci Swift -- that makes the music so compelling and unique. At times, like on the sultry "Easy", the music here reminded me nothing so much as that of the criminally-underrated Elysian Fields, Jessica Numsuwankijul's singing recalling Jennifer Charles' delivery a bit. Still, for all that, "Over There That Way" adds some fiery guitar-work to the mix to give a nod to Sixties pioneers as well as stuff like Los Angeles legends X. Here, as on much of Over There That Way, the music pulls together so many things so effortlessly that a listener can be forgiven for just grooving to this stuff without stopping to recall just how remarkable the presentation is.
On the lovely "I Can't Remember", the tune-age takes a decided turn into Mazzy Star territory, while "My Only Friend" rides in like a classic Mojave 3 or Slowdive cut with some flashes of bright guitar runs from Ricci Swift carrying it forward into a sort of blissed-out pop that's skirting the edges of shoegaze. That these two cuts are so far removed stylistically from earlier tracks on Over There That Way is more a sign of the band's skill at multiple genres than it is an indication of unease at staying in any one corner of the indie world.
Over There That Way by Heliotropes, out today on The End Records, is a pleasant surprise and something fresh in many ways. It's not simply that Jessica Numsuwankijkul is such an appealing prospect as a lead singer as the other players surely deserve an equal amount of the credit for this melodic melange of styles. Tuneful, affecting, and full of warm moments, Over There That Way deserves a lot of attention now.
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