Radical Face
The Family Tree: The Branches


4.5
superb

Review

by Matt Harrison CONTRIBUTOR (18 Reviews)
October 24th, 2013 | 80 replies | 13,995 views


Release Date: 10/22/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You remind me of what I could have been, but that reminder ain't much help.

As I've gotten older, it's gotten easier to write off every concept album as pretentious, and maybe that's just the cynicism that comes with age; the mindset that you sound a whole lot smarter if you, in your infinite wisdom of all things music, criticize a work, otherwise, God forbid, expose yourself to the vulnerability that comes with a positive reaction. Because that's the cool thing to say these days, right? To call an artist's project, which strives to be something greater than the whole, as utter bull***. Yeah, I've said it before, and it'd be easy to do the same for The Branches. But as I've spun Radical Face's new album several times, going through the necessary New Music Rating Stages, which of course involve the 4.5 of "this is the greatest thing ever and I'm only on track two," to the 3 of "I don't understand it, therefore it sucks," and to the 4 which lies somewhere between the two, it's become clear that Radical Face's second installment in the Family Tree trilogy is far too honest to write off as pretentious.

Because Radical Face has always been about a personal narrative -- that story so ingrained in your DNA it demands to be told. It's what made up the core of The Roots, and resulted in one of the most personal listens I've ever experienced, folk-americana tendencies for narratives aside. And it's that kind of raw honesty that can't be damned, so it's only fitting its follow-up should continue that successful method on The Branches.

But whereas The Roots soaked in the melancholic defeat of a family estrangement, such as on the chorus of "Ghost Towns" where singer Ben Cooper croons, "there's no going home with a name like mine," The Branches shows Cooper reflecting on his blood in a much more forgiving light -- He's no longer dragging along any of the bitterness towards his upbringing, but instead is paying tribute to the fact that he had one. It's this kind of redemption and joy that permeates throughout The Branches and it's what makes the tracks, "The Gilded Hand" and "From the Mouth of an Injured Head" stand as arguably his best songs to date. The sheer immensity and triumph of them is almost baffling given how homogenous the music is to its predecessor as the record, for the most part, is extremely similar in sound to The Roots.

Yet where over-consistency of sound is a flaw on many albums' sequels -- and with a name like The Branches you'd expect the musical approach to be a lot wider in scope -- it makes perfect sense in a trilogy, which benefits from a strict adherence to a specific tone. In fact, much of The Branches' songs are written in the same key as those from The Roots (for all you music theory nerds out there), and when the instrumentation is limited to folky guitar picking, piano arpeggios, subdued floor tom, and group clapping, there's only so much diversity to be had.

What The Branches ultimately symbolizes is a progression in a concept album trilogy where the lyrical narrative branches out, but the music sticks to its Roots, maintaining a constant framework for which Cooper takes us on his personal journey.



Recent reviews by this author
Laurel Halo Chance of RainHe Is Legend I Am Hollywood
Noah Gundersen LedgesSon Lux Lanterns
For Today Fight the SilenceThe Green Kingdom Expanses
user ratings (80)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
c0ffee (4.5)
If you only listen with your ears… I can’t get in....

trending alt & indie albums

Here and Nowhere Else

Cope

St. Vincent

AM

Comments:Add a Comment 
YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 23rd 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Had a lot of trouble with this one for some reason. Guess I'm just rusty.

larrytheslug
October 24th 2013



1309 Comments


havent listened to any family tree...i love ghost though, and based on your description of the music in the second to last paragraph, it sounds similar??

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually haven't heard Ghost, which is probably to my review's detriment so I can't really say but I imagine it is probably similar in sound as well.

larrytheslug
October 24th 2013



1309 Comments


ill jam some of those songs you mentioned : D

btw, that part in the first paragraph about the sputnik rating system isnt rly necessary imo. i kno its for comedic purposes, but ... idk, gives off the impression that you 4.5d because "this is the greatest thing ever and I'm only on track two"

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea, maybe I should take it out if it seems forced. I thought it was funny at the time, but it might not go well with this particular review. And I can see how my 4.5 seems to directly go against what I'm making fun of. But then again the rest of the review should justify the 4.5 hopefully. I had it at a 4 originally but bumped it up after looking at it in retrospect and as related to The Roots.

larrytheslug
October 24th 2013



1309 Comments


yea, the review justifies the rating, jus not that part ;]

i give you a paws tho.!

c0ffee
October 24th 2013



270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was working on a review for this; I need to sit down and finish it up. I was also having some writer's block.

In the first sentence of paragraph 2, I think it's appropriate to say "Radical Face has" instead of "have." It's really just Ben that does all the instrumentation/vocals/recording/mixing. He does get some help usually when he tours.

Nice review, though. I'm glad to see this getting some attention. Plus, this motivates me to finish up my own review. We definitely strip it down differently.

c0ffee
October 24th 2013



270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh, and it's Ben instead of Brandon.

You should definitely give Ghost a listen. It's still my personal favorite. It's so surreal at times.

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks for the feedback! and yea, this album definitely could spur a lot of different perspectives on it. I feel like mine might be a little too subjective even. The lyrics for me were really difficult to interpret so I may be totally misreading them. I look forward to reading your review though!

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ah, you're right. It is Ben. Not sure why I said Brandon.

larrytheslug
October 24th 2013



1309 Comments


yeah. spin ghost!

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2013



10000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sweet review dude should be a feature soon

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

awesome! it would be great to see a lot more people get into this.

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also, "Holy Branches" is totally the folk version of Portugal. The Man's "Creep in a T-shirt."

ABjordanMM
October 24th 2013



1291 Comments


Can't wait to listen to this. Forgot it was coming out soon.

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - Cope

ABjordanMM
October 24th 2013



1291 Comments


This is actually sounding really really good.

RadicalEd
October 24th 2013



2437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm obligated to check this out.

Tim00w
October 24th 2013



40 Comments


I can't wait for The Leaves

Digging: Mick Flannery - Evening Train

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Has he confirmed that as the next one?

ButtsoupBarnes
October 24th 2013



30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album just made me cry like a baby



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy