And Also the Trees

The Millpond Years

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Having established what would be the basic Trees sound two years previously, the next few albums would see the band taking a path similar to that of the Cocteau Twins, spending time refining and playing around with a set model, but rarely stepping beyond said model. A band rehashing itself or merely playing to its strengths? On the basis of Millpond, clearly much more the latter. Helped in part by the additional keyboards of Mark Tibenham, which provide some delicate shades and fills on such tracks as "Simple Tom and the Ghost of Jenny Bailey," the Trees continue to produce impassioned, dramatic songs with lyrical inspiration in emotional extremes, rural settings, supernatural events, and mystic imagery, as song titles like "The Sandstone Man" and "Count Jefferey" (a frightening, disturbing number with a freakish bass intrusion from Steven Burrows) demonstrate. "The House of the Heart" is the stand-out track this time around, with strings and trumpet flourishes adding to a song notably lighter in musical tone than most of the Trees' songs, while not lacking the band's classic elements of reverbed guitar and Simon Jones' brooding vocals. "From the Silver Frost" also hits high, with a gentle, string-touched start building into a lovely instrumental track. As before, Justin Jones demonstrates how his use of reverbed guitar strumming can create breathtaking atmospherics, as on the opening "The Suffering of the Stream" and "The Ship in Trouble," a flat-out amazing number in which his guitar shadings provide the only music to his brother's evocative lyric. Nick Havas and Burrows provide solid rhythm work throughout; the net result: another great Trees album.

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