The Oh Hellos – Dear Wormwood
– out now
4.5 / 5

We’ve anticipated this follow-up to 2012’s bright folksome Through the Deep, Dark Valley for far, far too long – since Newport ’14. On their sophomore full-length, these southern Texans have put us in the awkward position of having to promote their first LP above their follow-up; and yet, if this is that supposed “sophomore slump” that so many bands seem to go through… then only “wow” can be said of it. If it weren’t for Dark Valley, which we’d give a more than solid 5 of 5 (the third in our 6 years of blogging), Dear Wormwood might be considered for that perfect score. So, the awkward position: Dear Wormwood is absolutely brilliant, emotive and beautiful; and their previous Dark Valley is even better.

What we love about both albums is their brilliance – in terms of brightness, light, simplicity and yet depth. This is folk that is at times dark, haunted, and intertwined with appreciation and subdued joy. Unlike Dark Valley, we haven’t found ourselves singing along (that extra half of a point), but that’s not the purpose of this twin brother (or sister) to Dark Valley. Songs like “Caesar” bring that darkness through on the wings of joy, a chorus of voices yearning, stretching; hand claps and quiet contemplation on “Where Is Your Rider.” Like their first full-length, Dear Wormwood is not an album, a gem of an album, an excellent album: it is an experience, one worth digesting, reliving; and one worth passing along. There is no wasted space, there are no throwaways here.

Turn up the stereo, sit back, and immerse yourself in the small, formerly self-produced indie band that could. And did. And should be proud of. Beautiful and contemplative, by one of our favorite discoveries on the blog. Highly recommended.

We’re going to direct you to the Bandcamp, where you can pick up the vinyl. Which we probably will, too.

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