At Echo Lake
Woods has always had a sound and feel that is more Portland, OR, than Brooklyn, NY, but on their fifth studio album, it seems they’ve moved south to Santa Cruz, CA, for further earthy inspiration. Like a bud pushing through a craggy sidewalk, the flowery psychedelia and genteel folk overtones of At Echo Lake — and especially Jeremy Earl’s sweetly naïve vocals — are hope-filled and yearning; they’re musical underdogs in a world of garage revivalists and carefully orchestrated indie pop. The songs are more concise than on past efforts (the entire record is under 30 minutes), with the longest track, “Blood Dries Darker” feeling just too brief in its ragged pop perfection. One of the shortest songs, “From the Horn,” feels much larger, built on expansive layers of sonic sprawl that are oddly precise and constrained. From the spirit of Neil Young on tunes like “Time Fading Lines” to the psychedelic colors of “Suffering Season” and the swirling sitars of “I Was Gone,” this collection exudes a unique warmth and honesty, and feels strangely timeless.