When the two main members of a band seem to be pulling in opposite directions, conflicts can often arise. However, in the case of Pennsylvania’s Upperfields, who marry dreamy psychedelia with American folk music, the two major forces sound perfectly aligned.
You can hear the evidence immediately on the yearning Country rock leanings-meets-Beach House production for ‘Runner’. ‘Seascape’ fascinates too with a full-bodied chorus which is arguably bettered by some gorgeously languid verses and a flamboyant but beautifully melodic instrumental coda. ‘Find My Way’ slows down the pace further still, which serves to extend the glistening guitar passages for even longer as frontman Shaun Gould gives full vent to his heartache.
As the second half begins, ‘Tests’ is a little more wayward; drifting into progressive waters but despite its unsettling temperament its sprawling ebbs and flows would work well in the live environment, whilst ‘Rich’ presents the most disappointing moment and it can be no coincidence that the least adventurous/most rock-oriented track is also the least riveting. ‘Untethered Bells’ begins in similar fashion but the swirling keyboards and the song’s emotional ache ensures the album is brought back to its former glory.
People will look back to My Morning Jacket or Grandaddy as reference points but Upperfields are making their own mark here; embellishing their moving songs with epic, richly textured arrangements. ‘Waterways’ encourages us all to dream again.
My Morning Jacket, Grandaddy