Incredibly eclectic release from a brother and sister whose previous solo work can be found under the names Felix Green and Sea Oleena. Perhaps the most important thing to note is that this is an album with such breadth and variety that it is occasionally hard to believe you are listening to the same artist. This isn’t a bad thing though, as this release is a surprising and refreshing listening experience with an amazing range of influences.
The album opens with a keyboard infused folk song, somewhat reminiscent of Grizzly Bear. This is a subtle and catchy number that leads well into the second track, Hurricane Season. It is in these first two songs that you can start to notice the range of sounds presented here. Hurricane Season is much more electronic based, with sampled snippets falling in and out of the mix alongside a more choppy vocal style. This sort of variation continues throughout the nine tracks, putting forward a blend of folk, pop, electronic elements and (surprisingly) gospel. The gospel influence is most evident in the penultimate track, Down to the River to Pray. Whilst it is not exactly a common genre to incorporate into an indie release, Holobody manage to fit it in without it seeming forced or out of place. The track itself really highlights the fact that this album is defined by its variety. Opening with the gospel aspect, the song slips into an electronic buzz before dropping back to a more natural sounding finish.
What also drew me into this album is the balance of darker tracks against more upbeat ones. This leaves even more depth of variety within the album. In addition to this, the lyrics in Riverhood are either wonderfully surreal or very down to earth and natural. Perhaps the best example of this is the contrast between the obscure lyrics of Hurricane Season, and the more natural wording in Riverbed or Down to the River to Pray. This mix of the natural and synthetic is reflected in the instrumentation, with the folk and electronic influences fitting together nicely.
You can expect to hear both the brother and sister sing on this release – the vocals are fantastic and occasionally beautiful. They manage to sound at home regardless of the genre the track takes most heavily from, whether it is folk or cerebral electronica. You may also notice an excellent use of handclaps throughout this album, perhaps one of the first I have listened to where it hasn’t got drastically annoying after a few songs.
All in all, Riverhood is a great album with an intriguing mix of sounds and influences. It is the unashamed variety here that makes this release really worth your time.
Standout tracks: Unfold, Prelude, Down to the River to Pray, Acid Rain