Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Album Review: Trampled By Turtles- Wild Animals

Trampled By Turtles
Wild Animals
**and1/2 out of *****

The bluegrass players from Duluth, Minnesota return for their 8th release after having hit number 1 on the bluegrass chart with their last 2 studio albums (with a live disk just missing the top spot). This time the talented 5 piece reign in their soloing tendencies and craft a softer overall album upon which banjos, mandolins and violins mesh and flow.  

The title track on the disk is a melodic harmonizing jaunt that buzzes at the edges and showcases the groups focus on vocal dexterity in the vein of Fleet Foxes, a track that clearly lets you know what you are in for on the rest of the disk. The band keeps 'er easy with the swaying "Repetition" which contains echoing big vocals, the behind seems restrained and haunting on "Lucy" while "Hollow" is breezy pleasant country number.  

When folk/bluegrass/acoustic bands slow down this much a focus gets put directly on details, specifically production values, vocals and lyrics. On the first two of those Wild Animals gets high marks (behind Alan Sparhawk's production and the bands tight vocal arraignments) but on the third the results aren't as hot.

Most songs lyrically leave very little impression, while no clunkers, there are few (if any) whose refrain stick with you. On the better end of things is the Woody Guthrie sounding "Nobody Knows" and the disk closing "Winners". The flip side is "Are You Behind The Shining Star?" which is a moving melodic tune that could have soared even higher with more memorable words. This seems to be a constant issue; gorgeous musicianship and production but nothing that drives the tune home. 

Tracks like the mellow My Morning Jacket-light sounding "Silver Light", "Ghosts" with it's textural buzzing and the speedgrass number "Come Back Home" all reward with multiple listens, the last in particular shows the band hasn't completely abandoned their rollicking ways. 
Support the band here, buy the album here, see them live here and peep some video below:

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