The third release from Mouth Painter works more as a soundtrack than perhaps an album proper. The band sequences it in such a way that it showcases their various shades with a slightly Psilocybic flow. The edges of the album glow with an earthen aura as they ease in with noise-psych instrumentals and move into the pastoral recline of the country crooner “A Yardin’ I Once Went.” With the entwined vocals of Barry Walker Jr. and Valerie Osterberg floating in on a sun-ripple haze atop a lacing of flute and Walker’s pedal steel, the song exemplifies the album’s hold, but doesn’t define it. Propulsive pop seeps in through the seems just one song later. Kosmiche rivulets of German Progressive take hold one song further, but the band weaves the shifting tone like a well-woven mixtape, finding the common threads and pulling them tight.
When Walker takes the mic, his songs have a leathered weariness to them, something that didn’t quite crack through on his instrumental offerings, though the deep pangs of melancholy that were present in his playing on Shoulda Zenith, come through here as well, aided ably by Osterberg’s breezy flute. The band even reach No Other depths of desperation on closer “Richard of Augite” feeling like a proper sequel to Clark’s “Silver Raven.” The cinematic hand behind the album never quite disappears into the darkness, always urging the album toward an ebb and flow — sanguine stretches give way to stark instrumentals while Osterberg’s soothing leads tangle with Walker’s bouts of high plains loneliness. Tropicale Moon winds up a desert portrait, scratched by sand and calmed by evening winds. The band’s refusal to settle into style becomes its greatest asset, creating a cosmic country journey worth picking apart time after time.
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