Megafaun's self-titled third album is at times as sweet as country lemonade and, at other times, as biting as the lemon itself. The North Carolina boys are back giving us a taste of what they do best: playing soulful country tunes with a bit of twist, perfect for tapping your toe along as you rock in your chair on your wooden porch, passing the time from dusk til dark. No wooden porch, no rocking chair? No matter. This album puts you in that state of mind regardless of locale.
is steeped in alt-country and bluegrass roots, exactly what you'd expect from brothers Brad and Phil Cook and Joe Wusterlund. Songs jump from simple progressions on an acoustic guitar to an all-out assault on the ears featuring heavy distortion and myriad other noises.
The Appalachian trio still sticks to what made them popular and memorable in the first place by weaving these two distinct, and sometimes polarizing sounds, together. On this album, they seem to hit their stride. The freak folk parts are still there but in smaller doses giving the songs more fluidity and consistency. There is still enough there for older fans of previous albums, but the more well-rounded sound of Megafaun
is sure to attract plenty of new ears.
The album kicks off with a light but distorted rolling guitar lick in "Real Slow" that invites you along for the ride. The band's penchant for harmonies is as strong as ever, at times reminiscent of The Eagles. Things pick up a bit, and get a little strange, in the second track, "These Words." The three and a half minute tune starts by inviting you down to the watering hole to experience fun splashing in the water, only to propel you through intense distortion and glitchy feedback to create a cacophony of noise in this heavily Beck influenced exploration. "Second Friend" is a beautiful pop-song that showcases Megafaun's best impersonation of 1960s radio hits. Free-flowing verses with lush harmonies combined with light touches on accompanying instrumentation such as horns and strings create a sound that brings back memories of the "golden age" of music.
Megafaun has grown with this album and could soon be seeing the attention that former bandmate Justin Vernon's Bon Iver has as of late. The timbre is warmer, less offbeat, than the band's previous efforts. The album is more structured and less chaotic, but that's not to say that it can't be at times. Megafaun has just become sleeker and more agile in their transitions that make this album a smoother listen all the way through, and a notable stepping stone in their continuing growth as a band.
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MP3: "Second Friend"