There has been quite a shift in sound on The Proper Ornaments second album for Slumberland. They’ve wiped away much of the thick, bilious clouds that previously wafted into their jangle pop, giving them a bite of shoegaze among the bittersweet strums. On Foxhole, constrained by a necessary move to a home studio and and 8-track setup, they pare down their sound finding a core cleanness that’s drawing off of classic melancholy pop records, with flecks of everything from late period Big Star to Elliot Smith’s piano purr circa Figure 8.
The piano actually plays a key role in the shift made by songwriters James Hoare and Max Oscarnold, as both acquired new instruments prior to the recording of the album and let the keys lead them into a more serene headspace on Foxhole. As such, the album tends to have a more contemplative mood than their previous outing. Though that’s not to say that they’ve chucked their guitars in the bin, they still know how to weave a softly gnarled jangle around a melody and both artists’ penchant for the rosy hues of ’60s pop still colors the album. Its hard to imagine a band named after a shared love of soft psych band The Free Design wouldn’t hew a bit close to the jangles that built Britain’s stronghold on guitar pop. Though its evident here that they’re not really mining the poptimism of the ’60s beat set as they are the dour, more reserved notions of say Nick Garrie or the soft shimmer of Food.
The album winds up as a rather nice counterpoint to Hoare’s darker undertones on last year’s Ultimate Painting highlight, Dusk. Its a mature and misty album that’s finding solace in ennui and a comfortability in contemplation. The mood suits Hoare and Oscarnold well, and while it doesn’t always have the fuzzy bite of their debut, its an undeniably well-crafted album of drizzle-coated jangle.
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