Home Acres (Polyvinyl, 2010)
originally published at Dusted Magazine
It’s been a long time since Aloha had a noteworthy hook: by a conservative estimate, as far back as the turn of the century and That’s Your Fire, which had a sultry vibraphone and an overweening teenage catharsis thing going for it. Four or five albums since then show they’ve been busy enough, but by and large you couldn’t have asked for less edgy, less memorable indie rock. The most adventurous of those albums, 2004’s Here Comes Everyone, still felt inconclusive, its polite pop songs stretched out at weird proggy angles, a bout of growing pains to be weathered and eventually forgotten.
Home Acres, on the other hand, is immediately likeable, suitably complex, and not really very adventurous at all. Instead of reinvention, it commits to recombining old elements in a thoughtful, thematically precise way. That doesn’t sound like a very novel approach, but neither does this album: it’s just a solid set of shut-in anthems that explore the rootsy paranoia plumbed elsewhere by The Occasion or Yeasayer. The Aloha trademarks — Cale Parks’s fidgety jazz drums and loping vibe lines, Tony Cavallario’s gentle yelp and moony lyrics — simply work together better than before, giving the album enough momentum, or enough creepy tension, to plow through the spots where its predecessors got mired.
The songs themselves are a little less structurally inventive, but their seams almost never show, which goes a long way toward Home Acres’s feeling of (non-boring) consistency. Here and there it’s so consistent that it’s hard to distinguish, say, “Everything Goes My Way” from “Water Wheel,” but no matter: each song, from propulsive lead single “Moonless March” to rousing finale “Ruins,” leaves something behind. For a band that’s spent the last decade fighting a losing battle against forgettability, this is a midlife crisis that bodes well.back