My relationship with Seattle band, The Head and The Heart, began way back with the release of their self-titled debut album six years ago. I was in the eighth grade the first time I heard “Lost in My Mind” and from that point on, I was sold. It wasn’t until sophomore year in high school that I met another person who listened to them (hey, Becca). The following year, 2013, THATH released their second album. I didn’t think anything could have been better than their first, but Let’s Be Still was. I fell deeper in love with them, and was thrilled with a sense of accomplishment that my dad finally liked one of the bands I liked first.
The year after that, a couple friends and I went to the first year of Festival Palomino just to see THATH (s/o to Annie and Marah). There was a bad storm that day, and festival officials made us clear the grounds right before THATH were to come out. We waited under the giant pavilion for what seemed like forever, but was probably only 30 minutes or so. When they announced that we could go back to the grounds by the stages, the crowd broke into a stampede. I don’t think I’ve ever ran so fast in my life, but the real hero of this story is Annie who is literally a gazelle, and beat both Marah and me to the stage, securing us spots incredibly close.
Their set was beyond magical; the sun had come out and was setting right as they began. After seeing them live, like I do with most every other show I go to, I listened to exclusively THATH for a few weeks straight. I relived the show in my head as often as possible, I never wanted to forget it.
Maybe it’s my history with the band, maybe it’s my bias towards indie music, or maybe it’s because they signed with a major label, but all in all, I am highly disappointed with The Head and The Heart’s new album. Signs of Light was released today, and me being me, I already had my tickets for their show at Northrup Auditorium in October. Something cool they did was that you got a physical copy of the new album with your ticket to one of their shows.
My copy arrived in the mail today and I was excited and wary. I have been keeping up with their singles released on Spotify, but the first listen to “All We Ever Knew” and I had a bad feeling. I new they had signed to Warner Bros Records, but I believed in them to stay true to their sound. Boy, was I sadly mistaken.
Their self titled and Let’s Be Still, both released on Sub Pop, had such an honest, indie folk sound. They were unapologetically themselves, and you could hear it in their music and lyrics, and could definitely see it on stage. Signs of Light has them turning towards a much more radio-friendly pop sound. THATH have had airplay before, I’m not denying that some of their music wasn’t radio friendly, but the extent was nowhere near Signs of Light.
The vast majority of the album is unnecessarily over-produced which takes away from the honesty and heart in the music. Right off the bat, first single from the album, “All We Ever Knew” was obviously catered to a more commercial pop audience. Tracks like “City of Angels” and “False Alarm” have a broader, guitar rock sound that is way left field for them, it sounds like a different band altogether.
I do really enjoy “Oh My Dear” it sounds a little bit more like what they used to put out, albeit a bit darker, but still beautiful nonetheless. And I do love that it flows seamlessly into the next song, “I Don’t Mind,” which isn’t terrible, but still not like the past.
I hate to sound so bitter and crotchety, because I do believe that as an artist, you can’t continue doing the same things forever, there has to be room for change and growth. I honestly just feel let down more than anything. I understand and accept the direction in which they’ve decided to go and I wish them the best of luck, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. I mean and who knows, maybe after more listening to Signs of Light will grow on me like Mumford and Son’s Wilder Mind, but right now I’m upset.
It’s just hard to see a band that you love, that has been with you for so long, go downhill like this. Until you experience it for yourself, you won’t understand this deep disappointment. And I know a ton of people will disagree with me, and Signs of Light will be successful, and I’m glad for that, they deserve it. Though I, on the other hand, will be left over here with the other few heavy-hearted, asking “What happened to The Head and The Heart?” and “Will they ever come back?”