Savaging Spires

We Should Be Dead (Together)

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The music made by mysterious U.K. psych-folk collective Savaging Spires feels less like the work of a band running through songs, or even a conceptual piece of sound art. The strange web of blurry, homespun sounds that makes up We Should Be Dead (Together) feels more like something happening in nature that listeners are encountering on a foggy morning walk, like a pagan ritual in the woods that we're not supposed to be seeing, but have stumbled upon and are now watching from the distance. This blend of woodsy folk and creepy experimentalism is a calculated sound, honed by a band that deals with weird, ethereal collages sounding more like soundtracks to mushroom-heavy camping trips than the product of anything created in a studio. We Should Be Dead (Together) expands on the pastoral magic of their 2011 debut, still rushing by in a dreamlike flow of muted vocals, distant acoustic guitars, and haunted, foreboding percussion, but making much more space for the numerous melodies that rise and fall in the mix, sung by a host of unspecified male and female vocalists. An immediate reference point for the type of ramshackle environments Savaging Spires conjure up would be Animal Collective around the time of their low-lit back-porch sonnets on Campfire Songs, though lesser-known players of the freak folk movement like Alex Delivery, Leopard Leg, and the Happy Jawbone Family Band all come closer to sharing the communal feeling of album standouts like "Fifty Percent Proof" and stunning opener "We Could Be Dead Together." The album drifts by, the flow of the songs and sounds replicating the headspace of the exhausted traveler staring out the window of a train, coming in and out of jet-lagged consciousness as the countryside zips by outside. Occasional moments of heightened clarity come with more spare tracks like "Apostrophe." The song is one of many that seems simple but eventually swallows itself in a pleasant din of neo-folk guitars, the fuzz of lo-fi recording methods, or feedback textures that recall the late-night sound of Flying Saucer Attack or Sonic Youth at their spookiest. Ultimately, We Should Be Dead (Together) is far more of a rolling mood than a set of easily discernable tunes, an immersive and almost all-consuming rush of softly spoken confessions, shifting tensions, and blissfully beautiful uncertainty.

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