For the Company

Little May

(LP - Island #4754558)

Review by Marcy Donelson

For the Company is the full-length debut of brooding Australian indie folk trio Little May, former high school classmates who founded the group in 2012 and quickly found fans, headlining tour opportunities, and a record deal with Capitol. Produced by Aaron Dessner of indie rockers the National, the album adds light-handed electronics to the mix of fairly elaborate guitar work and warm vocal harmonies demonstrated on their contemplative eponymous EP. The tone of the LP remains serious with the particular songwriting quality of old souls. The regretful, slow jangle of "Chemicals," for example, has lead singer Hannah Field wearily determine "You're the closest thing I know to being homesick all the time" and "These strangers know you better now." "Cicadas" showcases their deft but dreamy guitars, accompanied by gentle strings, keys, bass, and drums, which together create a hushed urgency under subdued vocals. The quietly driving "Oh My My" features skipping drums, atmospheric piano and strings, and gently whirling Theremin-like effects for an equally unsettled hue. The whole album is comfortable like a favorite pair of sneakers on the floor next to a tear-stained pillow, without the lethargy; it hits a mid-range wistful tone and stays right there. It's a mood space that calls to mind the U.S.'s Lord Huron, with a sound that from time to time borders on dream pop ("Seven Hours," "Remind Me"). The most uptempo song, "Remind Me," is lush, full-on guitar rock with complementary drumming, and the album closes on the relatively uplifting "The Shine Is Brighter at Night," but For the Company is ruled by rumination and atmospheric elegance. Not quite as catchy or harmony-rich as a few of their earliest songs, some of Little May's early adopters may be a little bummed out by the material, but many will find it hits a sweet spot between the heart and head in which to snugly settle. The digital download version contains two bonus tracks, 2015 remasters of "Hide" and " Boardwalks" from their debut EP.

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