The new Signal Hill album has a great expanse of sound that envelopes and takes the listener on a ride of sound with vision. Signal Hill come from a short list of bands that decide to forego lyrics and radio playability in favor of invoking feeling, music, and vision from a tableau of sonic density.
Invoking bands such as Explosions in the Sky and Saxon Shore, they run the gambit from lilting to explosive. Having seen the band in its formative stages, I was impressed with the maturity their sound has taken on.
It starts with the opening track “the dead vineyard” with its piercing guitar attack floating over an impressive backbone of rhythm. The song grows from a tiny seed of sound into a hurricane of noise that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The album builds on the opener and fulfills itself into a bright yet sloping sound that breaks wide open with the song “stunning clarity” which is punctuated by the sweet tones of a bright bell sound that floats off gently into the sky with an impressive feat of studio work that sees a gated drum bring us into a muted night.
The “second” side of the album is the decidedly more mellow side of Signal Hill which can not be more accentuated than by the beautiful song “afternoon lull.” This song brings you in slowly like calm Sunday afternoons and drags you along for an ocean shore to remind of what the little things in life can amount to. How something so short and sweet can bring a quick respite from the mundane is amazing.
From there the album segeways into the foreboding “a secret society” which gives us an almost ominous send off note for a song so late in the albums track list and yet it gives a perfect vibe for what to expect when the end comes near.
Of course, this is all made mute by what might be one of the premiere songs in the album “our sisters.” Most albums these days are made with the idea of putting a bunch of singles together to make money. People can buy the best songs they like off itunes and never get what the artist was trying to say. Signal Hill put together a great piece of art that starts at one place and takes you through a trip that ends at a certain place, and that place is “our sisters.” I have not been more impressed by what I coin as the “good-bye song” (the song that artist’s write to tell you that your journey is over musically) than “white trash heroes” the now legendary end cut and ultimate “good-bye song” by the amazing band archers of loaf.
I am not saying Signal Hill are the Archers of Loaf, but if you like moody music by which to re-think your existence in a way that seems to make more sense than the daily news I highly recommend you pick up “More After Gone.” I promise you will be happy you did. I have been falling asleep to it for days and it has induced the most vibrant dreams -- so at the very least you'll have that going for you.