Woods
Strange To Explain


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 24th, 2020 | 31 replies


Release Date: 05/22/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Smooth psych-folk with artful ambition and no tangible bounds.

Strange to Explain is like stumbling into a neon-lit, magical forest. Rooted in lush acoustic indie-folk that features everything from flutes to gorgeous brass, it expands its reach fearlessly into synthesized psychedelia, seamlessly merging it all into an experience that could soundtrack your next camping, or acid, trip. It glows with an inviting warmth, and once you get sucked in by its various charms, you’ll become lost in a kaleidoscope of musical color.

Jeremy Earl’s spellbinding vocals anchor the album, his voice a perfect blend of stained-glass elegance and the whispering wind. He wastes little time injecting Strange to Explain with warm summer imagery, singing of beaches, the sea, and making memories all within the first ninety seconds of the record. It’s an aura matched by the opener’s bouncing rhythm comprised of drums, trumpets, and a warped-sounding synthesizer. Those “summer vibes” continue throughout Strange to Explain, thanks to its exploratory whims, fluid progression, and affinity for breezy indie-pop melodies.

A common pitfall for psych-folk albums is that the further they evade the tangible, the more everything starts to bleed together into an amorphous blob of pleasantly forgettable atmospheres. Woods, now eight records into their illustrious yet understated careers, manage to deftly toe around this trap – typically by knowing precisely when to shake things up. After the first three songs – all light and whimsical – brush past us, we’re treated to an uptick in rock tempo with drums and nuanced electric riffs crashing the forefront of the mix. They pull the rug out from beneath us again two songs later on ‘The Void’, a tricked-out number that weaves sparkling, xylophone-like keys in with mariachi-styled horns – the latter of which fills the role of an instrumental solo, stretching out across the song’s final minute.

In balancing the earthly and ethereal, Woods tread a typically difficult line with apparent ease. ‘Just to Fall Asleep’ employs a water-droplet electronic sound effect that makes Strange to Explain feel even easier to sink into; a lesser band wouldn’t be able to execute this without it sounding ham-fisted or cheesy, but Woods pull it off without a shred of hesitation or doubt. It’s the same thing with the bird chirps and garden sounds that introduce the penultimate ‘Be There Still’ – an acoustic ballad that swells with a placid synthesizer line and distantly beautiful strings. The band seems to arrive at their intended destination on the seven minute, fully instrumental anti-epic of a closer, ‘Weekend Wind’. Rather than erupting in some sort of grandiose curtain call, Woods send Strange to Explain quietly off into the ether. The song is a relaxingly freeform, jazzy jam session – and the longer the song continues, the quieter the all the woodwinds become. It’s as if someone is riding off into the sunset on a hot air balloon while playing the trumpet – and by the end of the album, all we’re left with is the grass beneath our feet – a lone, crunchy drum beat.

Strange to Explain is an appropriate title because it is almost indefinable . It’s best described by concocting imagery that seems to befit the music, whether it’s an analogy or a reference to colorful shades and hues. This album is somewhere between the band’s earth-bound, folksy namesake – Woods – and that luminous alternate dimension you see pictured in the artwork. Through it all, Strange to Explain is warm, weightless, and free-spirited. It doesn’t need to be compartmentalized – it’s gorgeous, and that’s enough.





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user ratings (34)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
May 24th 2020


34980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Track isn't the one I truly wanted to embed, but had to work within the limitations. This is very nice. Listen to it.

Digging: Geology - Light of the Risen Year

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2020


12308 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sweet, last one was a bit disappointing for me but with light and with love is one of my faves of the past decade

Digging: Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?

ColeT
May 24th 2020


718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Glad someone reviewed this, good review as well.

Gyromania
May 24th 2020


30097 Comments


i've played sun city creeps an unhealthy amount of times, despite not totally loving their last album. will check this

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2020


25825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Niice Sowing. Dug the review and I could see this becoming my favorite Woods album





Digging: Paysage d'Hiver - Im Wald

Pangea
May 24th 2020


4303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty excited for this. their last one was excellent

Digging: Paysage d'Hiver - Im Wald

Sunnyvale
May 25th 2020


1533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Woods' last three albums have all been sweet, glad to see this reviewed

tom79
May 25th 2020


3754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome, didn't know these guys had a new one out. Band is great.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2020


25825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

had to bump to a 4. this album is so damn smooth, definitely more consistent then their last one overall

FuzzyThoughts
May 26th 2020


63 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really loved this and have probably listened to it 4 or 5 times already (starting on release day). I gotta check out more of their discography. The Purple Mountains release was one of my favorites from last year (I only recently found out that they did the instrumentals on that record for David Berman).

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 26th 2020


34980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to see others enjoying this just as much. It's such an easy album to put on and just get lost in.

tom79
May 26th 2020


3754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was a perfect compliment to a sunny bike ride today, looking forward to it growing on future listens. These guys make great summer music.



"The Purple Mountains release was one of my favorites from last year (I only recently found out that they did the instrumentals on that record for David Berman)."



Storyline Fever basically sounds like a Woods song but with Berman's vocals/lyrics, love it.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 26th 2020


34980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can relate; I took the family out for a hike on memorial day and I listened to this in the car on the way to/from. Totally captures that warm, breezy summer aura with a touch of mystique.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2020


25825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

was definitely the soundtrack to my weekend

Pangea
May 27th 2020


4303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yep they have done it done it again. this rules. definitely has those laid back summery vibes

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 27th 2020


34980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great to see such a warm reception to this. I can't stop listening to this because it's just so smooth and easy-going.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
May 27th 2020


25825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

definitely check their album With Light And With Love as well, Sowing. the one before that is also good but haven't heard any of their albums prior to that

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 27th 2020


34980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I heard City Sun Eater and that's it. I'll definitely be following up on their other stuff.

WatchItExplode
May 28th 2020


8186 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will certainly be added to my camping soundtrack along with Loving. Thinking an evening/dusk spin.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 28th 2020


34980 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ooh, this and Loving are a great comparison. They'd go together perfectly with camping.



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