With their self-titled debut, Danish quartet Treefight for Sunlight offer a breath of fresh air from the trending lo-fi sound and raise the bar set by fellow Scandinavian indie pop purveyors like Jens Lekman, Kings of Convenience, and Burning Hearts. As the band’s name evokes images of leaves growing lush and branches reaching toward the sky, they capture the musical equivalent -- a more pop-oriented Fleet Foxes and more guitar-centric Panda Bear with plenty of Beatles and Beach Boys influence -- growing into a ten-song, 35-minute mini-symphony marked by soaring harmonies and recurring themes of nature and love. In contrast to their Scandinavian brethren, Treefight for Sunlight’s approach to songcraft and harmony has a decidedly ‘60s West Coast bent, conjuring the jangly guitar of the Byrds, circular vocals of the Association, and earnest cheer of the Turtles. Using these references as a jumping-off point rather than a blueprint, the band covers a varied terrain, as “You and the New World” weaves an Afro-pop melody with hand claps and twinkling piano and “The Universe Is a Woman” slowly evolves from laid-back baroque pop revival to pop cacophony. Treefight for Sunlight reaches its greatest heights on “What Became of You and I?,” whose kaleidoscopic keyboards and angelic vocals (performed in tandem throughout the record by guitarist Morten Winther Nielsen, bassist Christian Rohde Lindinger, and drummer Mathias Sørensen) promising “Whatever I feel it ain't all for you” serve a shot of serotonin to the brokenhearted, and “Facing the Sun,” in which xylophone and synth propel a narrative of daydreaming while sitting under a tree. The quartet reports to have spent three and a half years making this record, six months on the choral arrangements alone, and it shows: aside from the throwaway psych-ambient experimentation of the instrumental “Tambourhinoceros Jam,” Treefight for Sunlight’s debut is a triumph of sun-drenched ecstatic pop that leaves listeners with an arsenal of hooks in their heads, eager to hear what the band will come up with next. Here's hoping it doesn't take another three and a half years to find out.
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