Lost in the Trees takes well-calculated risk
Lost in the Trees shows mastery over change — seemingly knowing too much consistency makes music blend together — while still maintaining a sound on each track that is distinctly theirs.
Though 2012 is not typically remembered as one of rock’s greatest years, that doesn’t diminish the significance of having one’s record being named the year’s best by the Wall Street Journal. Powerful beyond this accolade, “A Church that Fits Our Needs,” the second LP from indie-folk band Lost in the Trees, made waves with fans and critics alike through its unique arrangements and haunting lyrics.
Luckily, fans didn’t have to wait long for the release of the band’s third album. “Past Life,” which came out this month on ANTI-Records, was highly anticipated — and for good reason.
Preceding records “All Alone in an Empty House” and “A Church” set Lost in the Trees apart from other indie-folk bands. Founding member and lead vocalist Ari Picker said he draws inspiration from figures as diverse as Beethoven and OutKast — and the variety definitely shows. Something about Picker’s liquid voice and the six-member ensemble which plays behind it constructs an incredibly distinct sound, truly seeming to have roots in as wide as a spectrum as Picker described.
High hopes for “Past Life” were met, to say the least. The band may have lost two members in two years, but this caused little to no damage to the final product. There is, however, a definite shift in the style of music they deliver. “Past Life” moves Lost in the Trees away from folk tendencies and closer to — strangely enough — electronically-tinged rock music. Ironically, Picker’s lyrics are also more greatly distanced from the theme of loss which underlined the last two albums, despite parting ways with his former bandmates. When asked about these differences, Picker commented, “I wanted to reach out and grab the music, rather than have it come from some internal place.”
He certainly accomplished this. Lost in the Trees shows mastery over change — seemingly knowing too much consistency makes music blend together — while still maintaining a sound on each track that is distinctly theirs.
“Past Life” is both an album which couldn’t be produced by any other band and an album remarkably different from any past LPs. The modern and minimalist feel remains from other group efforts, but the melodies are fresh and original. While electronic can be, at times, a very hit-or-miss genre, its incorporation into this album was right on target.
The strength of Picker’s lyrics also hasn’t been lost in the band’s transition to this new sound. In “Past Life,” the album’s eponym, Picker’s voice melts into the melody, singing, “The sun pours from your eyes / We were killers in a past life / But it turned out alright / We’ll turn into stars.”
Once again, the lyrics prove to be much more than just a musical accompaniment.
On the whole, “Past Life” tells a story of heartache, love, pain and joy, without a fair deal of cliches. Old fans will not be disappointed and new fans are certain to be made with this release.