The early 2010s were a weird time for rock music: In a music world where synthesizers and auto-tune dominated the charts, a group of bands who looked like Civil War Veterans who shopped at H&M picked up their banjos, acoustic guitars, and kick drums and sucker-punched the mainstream music market with their unconventional brand of back-to-basics folk-rock. The sudden resurgence in indie-folk allowed many bands that initially didn't fit the mainstream music mold to carve out a place for themselves outside of the indie scene and in the big leagues. It was a joyous time of hand clapping and "whoa-oh" choruses, but that time has more or less passed. Mumford & Sons
, arguably the band who opened the floodgates, went fully electric on their most recent record, and whether or not it worked depends on who you ask (spoilers: It didn't). The Lumineers
and the Avett Brothers
are still keeping a folky vibe going, but have adopted a more polished production sound, and in the Avetts' case, have done a couple records with Def Jam founder and producer Rick Rubin.
With their brand new single "Colors," it seems that it's the Head and the Heart
s turn to transition from acoustic to electric. Best known for their 2010 hit "Lost In My Mind," THATH was one of the most noteworthy indie acts to benefit from the folk revival, but six years two albums later, it makes sense the band would want to branch out into different styles. The essence of what this band is good at is all still there: The harmonies are really beautifully done, melody is catchy, and it easily gets stuck in your head. However, the band is embracing a more 60s classic rock sound rather than a 60s folk sound, with its laid-back drumbeat, atmospheric organs and pianos, and reverb-y guitars. While the band's music usually brings to mind the wet forests of Washington state, "Colors" feels much more like a lazy summer day by the pool in LA.
The single, plus their upcoming record, Signs of Light
, might be the band's "Dylan Goes Electric" moment, in that it may divide their fans pretty distinctly between those who dig the new sound and those who don't. I can see valid arguments for both sides, and while the track has some good moments, it isn't perfect. For example, I think the verses could use a little more energy, because when grouped with the pretty upbeat chorus and bridge parts, it kind of feels like the rug being pulled from under you. But other than that, I like the track for the most part, and I like the new sound THATH is going for. If it's any indication of what Signs of Light
is going to sound like, then I'm intrigued enough to check it out once it's released, and that's what a single is ultimately supposed to do.
Listen to "Colors" right here, and look out for Signs of Light
, out September 9.