Review Summary: A circle has an end, even if it connects to where it begins.
Amongst These Splintered Minds//Leaden Thoughts is an album of small comforts in big places. The songs sound familiar, immediate, consoling, warm; but they are tinged with a pervasive feeling of expansiveness, and at times, grandiosity. Whether it be the catharsis of drums and horns in "No One on the Road" or the skeletal folk musings of "A Few Paces Behind", the record's appeal lies within it's transcendental humanity.
Simple lyrical themes like whose thumb goes on top when holding hands, drying your socks, and plates of cookies give the record a deceptively cute sound, but the post-rock bombast and poignant lyricism lead the listener to very different conclusions. The best example of these overlapping styles is "The Things We Remember", a rambling about nostalgia that is suddenly driven home with guitars soaking in reverberation and crashing cymbals. It is these unexpected releases of sound that allow for this record to reach the listener's heart and squeeze feeling out of it. The moments where the contrasting male/female vocals take a back seat to the explosive instrumentation are the album's true highlights.
One of the best aspects of the band is their seemingly careless approach to writing and recording. All of these songs sound like they could have been written, left unaltered, and recorded in one take. After a couple listens you start to notice the little nooks and crannies of the album. You start to notice the way the vocals rise and fall with the swelling of cymbals. You notice the snickers and sniffles of the band members, the noises of frogs and streams in the opening track, along with the trembling honesty of the lyrics. After a while it all seems like a deliberate, calculated attempt to pluck at the listener's heartstrings, rather than a first run of carelessly crafted folk songs, and it works flawlessly.
Amongst These Splintered Minds is an album of contrast above all things. Just like the life of a human being, the highs are exemplified by the lows. The post-rock tendencies are embellished by the barren acoustic passages and vice-versa. The Act of Estimating as Worthless wraps the styles of two relatively stagnant genres and blends them into a nostalgic, sprawling collection of intrinsic beauty.