Review Summary: An exuberant, and complete sounding acoustic release that is a safe listen for 2010.
Vivacity is something that is often difficult to come by with acoustic records. Typically, a stripped down approach is associated with a greater single-mindedness on lyricism; willing to throw tempo and dynamism by the wayside in order for the album to take on its full effect. We’ve seen this approach work wonders in the past, taking any of Elliott Smith’s early records and Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” into consideration. Those are the type of albums that seem to generate these pre-conceived notions of acoustic releases, overshadowing the prospect of a “lively” collection of tracks. Therefore, to define The Heligoats’ latest album “Goodness Gracious” as an “acoustic record” does not even begin to describe what it is all about. “Goodness Gracious” takes on a life of its own; it is neither a stripped down chronicle nor strictly a focus on songwriting. Chris Otepka’s solo work screams with simplicity, but never terminates to develop a profound feeling of captivation.
“Goodness Gracious” takes on a very “earthy” ambience, reminiscing of a more simplistic “In Lake’ Ch” The Mayan Factor. It is an evolution of conventional acoustic music, for the rhythm section presents the record with a complete and lively sound. We see this time and time again in “Goodness Gracious,” from the summer swagger of Fish Sticks
to the spirited Rubber Stopper
. With the opener, we are subject to this intense vigor from the very beginning, which contains more oomph than your average rock song. With that all in place, Otepka doesn’t cease to deliver a bit of personality; even going as far as contributing a Dispatch-esque reggae track in Fish Sticks
, and leaving Untitled
as a concept-effective seque into Rubber Stopper
is essentially the sound of a roaring tide with wind chimes, voice overs, and other arbitrary noises. Although it may come off as insignificant, the thunderous sound of the ocean is a testament to the vivacity of the entire record, and beautifully accentuates what Otepka is establishing with “Goodness Gracious.” The album’s most uncharacteristic moment is that of the final track Goodness Gracious
, which is the release’s most stripped down instance. The title piece is extremely effective and almost powerful in this right, and serves as a fitting close.
“Goodness Gracious” is another genuine effort from Chris Otepka’s criminally ignored discography, and even leaves the prospect of even greater things in the future. The Heligoats’ latest release utilizes soaring melodies and above par songwriting that attribute to its exuberant nature, but ultimately leaves something to be desired. Its simplistic approach does not seem to separate the record from Otekpa’s indie-folk peers, and for this The Heligoats’ work is prone to be ignored as well. “Goodness Gracious” is a safe listen for 2010, having the ability to captivate, chill, and even stimulate.
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