After fully rocking out on their self-titled debut, the Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band return with an abstract and plodding follow-up. The drastic stylistic change would seem like a bad idea for most artists, but MSHVB may have just found its niche.
Where the Messengers Meet swoons with a melancholy whimsy, like a rainy day in the Hundred-Acre Wood. Instead of the blistering guitar leads and peppy drumming of the last album, the instrumentals on songs like “Bitter Cold” echo as if they’re cascading off the walls of a gaping Gothic cathedral. (Understated organ parts help nurture this vibe.)
This haunting ambience is furthered by Benjamin Verdoes’ signature vocal pattern: starting a phrase with a loud sharpness only to coyly trail off with every passing syllable (“In a Hole”). “Leaving Trails” almost sounds like a ghost of a Radiohead song.
On this record, MSHVB achieves the rarity of sounding so distant while still feeling so warm and inviting.
DOWNLOAD: “Leaving Trails”