Morella's Forest

Ultraphonic Hiss

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On its sophomore effort for Tooth & Nail, Ohio's Morella's Forest trades the direct dream pop flourishes of its debut for a more refined noise pop sound. The choppy, reverb-heavy distortion is still here in the instrumentation, for sure. But Sydney Rentz's vocals aren't as far away, which places her lyrics of love and loss front and center. Likewise, Ultraphonic Hiss doesn't drift as often into extended noise trips or brooding, bittersweet instrumental sections punctuated by peels of guitar noise. "Candy Necklace Kind of Love," "Butter Scotch Boy," and "Tangerine Drops" focus the sound around tight percussion and that famous fuzz and find time to form actual melodies (the latter features the additionally tasteful flourish of a string section). "Pastel Straws" features some great multi-layered production in addition to Rentz's whispered plea "I hope you're not too mad at me/I hope you're not too mad," and the lighthearted "Glitter" recalls Lush while channeling the Who's "Kids Are Alright" in its chorus. Things can be a bit too syrupy at times (take a look at those Willy Wonka song titles), but mushy romanticism has been part of noise and indie pop at least as long as the distortion pedal, so some lovelorn notions shouldn't sour anyone on Morella's Forest. Ultraphonic Hiss is a solid second effort soundly in line with the fashionably referential work of Henry's Dress and Velocity Girl, or even Tiger Trap in the more upbeat moments of "Hula Hoop" and "Lime Velvet Love Seat." Dayton, OH, might not be D.C. or the Bay Area, but it's good to know there's at least one band bringing guitar squeals and lovey-dovey lyrics to the heartland.

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