Dakota Suite's Signal Hill is another lo-fi sleeper from San Francisco indie label Badman Recording Company. While the band is from West Yorkshire, England, songwriter Chris Hooson exudes an almost Midwestern feel not unlike that of Josh Rouse or the Red House Painters -- simple, sparse instrumentation and whispered, intimate vocals tell stories of absent lovers and grey evenings. Produced and recorded by band member Richard Formby (Spacemen 3, Sonic Boom), the album has a distinctly analog feel, with idly strummed acoustic guitar intertwining with soaring lap steel, a simple trap kit, and some of the gentlest bass playing on record. Similar to Spain's Josh Haden, singer/songwriter Hooson's breathy vocals are warmly bittersweet and heartfelt, never abandoning hope, but rather pleading his case in an almost offhand manner. In the album's closing moments, a cello-led chamber piece serves as an intro to the cautiously hopeful final track "When Skies Are Grey," which finds the singer almost peeking around the skirt of his mother or wife, asking, "Will you hide me/In your broken rooms/Say you will/Say you will." Fans of blushingly sweet, depressing lo-fi pop will find Signal Hill to be another fine album to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes to, sitting in their apartments, blissfully miserable.
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AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson