Tall Tales

Written by: MN on 05/05/2014 21:33:18

Deep Elm are known for bringing us some of the most interesting indie rock these days with 500 Miles To Memphis being one of the more original outfits coming from the independent record company. After having released a commendable debut in the form of "Growth & Squalor" back in 2012, critics were pleased with Accent's sheer honesty and sincerity in both songwriting and execution by lead vocalist TJ Foster. Playing indie rock alá Death Cab For Cutie, their debut was not necessarily groundbreaking in originality, but the no-frills approach to good songwriting proved to be enough to garner respect. Their debut album was a melancholic and emotional journey through the vulnerability of life and growing up from adolescence into adulthood.

Two years later, Accents return as a quintet with the release of "Tall Tales", an album that marks a massive switch from their debut record. The songwriting retains the original no-frills approach, but folk instrumentation, as well as punk influences take way more centre stage than the somewhat simple debut. Here, the increase in "stadium size" sound brings thoughts of both Mumford & Sons and the brilliant Icelandic band Of Monsters And Men. On a lyrical level, the heartpain is retired towards a much more assured and mature TJ Foster and his partner in vocals, Lauren Alexander.

As the first album revolved around the hardships of growing up, the sophomore release echoes acceptance, adulthood and thereby nostalgia of days passed. In essence, it is a much more warm release. The partnership in vocals gives way for some great harmonies. For example, in the simple yet wonderful "Los Angeles" which hints at some sort of political motive, though done through tasteful abstractness. The melancholia of the first record is however not completely retired as the track "Artist In Denial" allows for Lauren's vocals to soar above a warm acoustic backdrop, and a gorgeous drum section. Likewise, "The Only Drug" gives way for TJ Foster to sing without the bombastic instrumental backdrop found in other songs.

"Storybook Man" introduces one of my personal favourite additions in the form of a tangy ukulele, complimented by a groovy bassline and synth chimes. "England Awaits" immerses in the best Mumford style with a warm fullbodied down-tuned acoustic guitar. One of the bigger surprises is when "I Wasn't Looking For You" starts of in a usual manner, but eventually morphs itself into a fully-fledged punk jammer. "Sore Eyes" closes this very succesfull sophomore with intensity, one last hurrah with trumpets!

The success rate of this record is something that only time will tell. Its first impressions are second to none, but there are quite a few bands who are doing something quite similar. So with regards to originality, Accents fall short. Having said that, going from a decent debut to this in the space of two years is a massive achievement that I expect would take longer.

Download: Sore Eyes, Los Angeles, The Only Drug
For The Fans Of: Death Cab For Cutie, Arcade Fire, Of Monsters And Men

Release date 25.03.2014
Deep Elm Records

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