Lead singer Justin Ringle and his compatriots didn't change their sound that much from 2008's outstanding House With No Home, but there's enough differentiation to make Thistled Spring feel like a new album. Horse Feathers also prove that you can judge an album by its cover. Housew/NoHome featured an old barn atop a snow-covered hill, suggesting emptiness and melancholy, while Spring's cover is budding leaves, suggesting new life.
While the music seems to fit the season of spring, there is a lyrical undertone that suggests death instead of life, as evidenced in the song "Starving Robins." That's something that's so amazing about Horse Feathers: they can sing about death in such a beautiful sounding setting. This is also true with my favorite track, "The Drought" (which is, not surprisingly, about a severe lack of water). I'll be honest: the first two or three times I heard that song I held my hands over my mouth and sat silently. I probably could've forced some tears or something. Breath-taking. Haunting. Beautiful. "It's bearing down on me, / There's no clouds in the sky. / [I] Hear the pines crack and cry, / There's no reason to try." Stuff is dying in that song, but the sonic beauty somehow envelops the lyrical sadness, and pushes past it ... but to what, I don't know. I would absolutely love to have a long sit-down conversation with Justin and the gang about the lyrical content versus the overall sound.
Blurb: I'm not sure how the best keep getting better, but these guys do it. It'll be a miracle if this isn't my favorite album of the year when January rolls around.