Scattered Trees' 2011 album Sympathy continues the heartfelt sadcore and poignant melodic pop the outift has favored since its 2004 debut, Hollohills, when it was primarily a solo project for lead singer/songwriter Nate Eiesland. Having developed since then into a quintet featuring Nate's wife, keyboardist Alissa Eiesland, Sympathy does showcase the group's larger, chamber rock aesthetic while still retaining a kind of intimate sound. Tracks like the group harmony-heavy "Bury the Floors" and the electronic-infused "A Conversation About Death on New Year's Eve" reveal Eiesland's penchant for yearning, haunted lyrics and bent toward languid, midtempo rock anthems that never quite build beyond an intense and sustained anguish. Similarly, the loping, heartbreaking single "Love and Leave" and the comparatively exuberant "Four Days Straight" combine a kind of post-Coldplay, post-Death Cab for Cutie influence with catchy hooks and dramatic rock solo sections. Elsewhere, on such cuts as the gentle, ukulele-driven title track and the guttingly melancholy acoustic ballad "Where You Came From" Eiesland still seems enamored with the solo, bedroom recording approach and in that sense brings to mind the work of the late Elliott Smith. However understated the band aesthetic may seem on Sympathy, Scattered Trees nonetheless have a nice group spark on record that only benefits from Eiesland's own specific vision.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar