Goldheart Assembly

Long Distance Song Effects

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Goldheart Assembly took three years to follow up their winsome, folky debut album Wolves & Thieves, and the time away paid off: Long Distance Song Effects keeps the jangly hooks and soaring harmonies but takes a looser, more creative approach that's often a little stranger and a lot more interesting. A strong '70s vibe permeates the album's orchestral rock-inspired arrangements and instrumentation; perhaps paradoxically, this vintage feel results in some of the band's freshest and most inspired songs yet. With its achingly beautiful melody and slow-building grandeur, "Stephanie and the Ferris Wheel" recalls the lavish pop of pre-disco Bee Gees; "Behind This Lonely Sun" boasts the kind of leisurely drama that graced many of Elton John's ballads. Elsewhere, Long Distance Song Effects feels like Goldheart Assembly kicked things up a notch or two in general, emphasizing the previously subtle psychedelic sound effects that decorated their debut and indulging in textural interplay like the twinkling harp and gently fuzzy guitars on "Harvest in the Snow." Likewise, the band develops the flair for the intimate-yet-flamboyant songwriting they displayed on Wolves & Thieves standouts like "So Long, St. Christopher" with "Billy in the Lowground," "Into Desperate Arms," and especially "Sad Sad Stage," which includes lyrical details like "I'm lost like a young man's child" in its anthemic sweep. Sometimes things feel a little slicker than necessary, but most of the album shows how well Goldheart Assembly have expanded their sound and songwriting without losing any of the catchiness that made Wolves & Thieves so appealing. The control and variety they display throughout Long Distance Song Effects shows that Goldheart Assembly have come into their own here.

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