Guitarist Karl Smith's vocals are a lot like those of Stuart Murdoch on a down day, but they work on The Hill for Company because the songs are inspired enough not to sound like just another Belle and Sebastian knockoff. On it muted trumpets fittingly punctuate mournful strings or elegant guitar and bass runs, and emotive lyrics abound. "Lushington Hall" has the chilling "I know God is good/but he did nothing for me/Except sit by the door/and bury me in weakness." And "Mood in the Bunker" wades in lines like "these heavy days are taking hold." The album continues in defeatist mode pretty much the whole way through. But Sodastream knows how to grieve beautifully, or to just observe the absurdity of the way the world seems to work while refusing to be placated by it. On "Another Trail" Smith chants, "the time to sing and play/I wish it was good," accompanied by the sinuous viola playing of Gerard Mack. The album ends with a wrenching tune called "Send My Love to Those Who Deserve It."
The Hill for Company Review
by Travis Drageset