Review Summary: A sleepy odyssey into uncharted forest.
One childhood fantasy that hardly ever dissipates with age is the dream of discovering unseen worlds. Brushing apart the tall grasses, stepping out of the space capsule, stumbling upon a world of color when all you’ve known was black and white. Hidden Lands
promises in its title to show you this alternate universe and the songs (“Miracle Spring”, “A Strange Land Discovered”) further guarantee sights seemingly foreign to this earth. Such a virginal utopia can cater to a multitude of experiences: carefree leisure, wild adventures, or, as Candy Claws seem to like it, a meditation like none other.
The sleepy indie pop soundcapers are at total ease in the dream worlds they create. While their 2009 debut In the Dream of the Sea Life
was billed as a “musical companion” to the 1951 best-selling book “The Sea Around Us”, their follow-up takes more cues from their Colorado roots, inspired by Richard M. Ketchum’s “The Secret Life of Forests”. Birds chirp, babbling streams flow by, and the majesty of sweeping forests and mountain slopes take form in lush washed out keyboards and orchestral accents.
Despite the wealth of delicate sounds populating Hidden Lands
, the album is considerably, and perhaps overly, quiet (or “feeling” quiet). The effect of quaint children’s songs on loads of Benadryl is accomplished in whispery, droned vocals layered in unison. Lyrics are vague at best, as the vocals clearly serve to be another calming tone among the rest (similar to cited influence My Bloody Valentine). As serenely as these compositions flutter past, the songs maintain a subdued hum that can be hard to shake, in that the band doesn’t shake things up. While “Sunbeam Show”, with its mesmerizing sirens and clean melody, is a gentle charmer speaking to the best of dream pop intentions, the interweavings of “On the Bridge” and “Hiding” blur the lines between sleepy and sleep-inducing.
Candy Claws radically endorse a connection to nature through a drugged-out psychadelia that stays firmly in one gear. But in this sleepy haze, there is a colorful sonic diversity that rewards focused listens. Whether stuck in first gear or happily never wanting to leave it, beautiful serenity is an accomplished goal here. We may never see strange new worlds like the ones we imagined in our youth, but perhaps the lesson in Hidden Lands
is that the undiscovered is all around us; we just have to slow down, be quiet, and listen.