The Morning Benders sophomore release, Big Echo, is a tapestry of well composed, wistful baroque-pop that lightly balances somewhere between the feelings of nostalgia and regret. Reminiscent of the moments in life you reflect back on, undecided if you truly regret them now, but are positive that you wouldn’t live them different if you had the chance.
Big Echo contains traces of the orchestral peaks and valleys of producer Chris Taylor’s band Grizzly Bear, but The Morning Benders stand on their own feet and put a subtle yet effective sun soaked spin on a style Taylor seems to have become a master at producing. Starting with the retro fitted “Excuses” and then letting their catchy guitar hooks shine through the layers of instrumentation on “Promises” — Big Echo not only starts with two great songs but ends in a similar, but epic manner. “Stitches” and “Sleeping In” beg to be listened to consecutively, both begin small then finish big, with all the buildup they create leading to a rewarding listen. Not to say there’s nothing in-between the first and last pairs of songs, that’s far from the case. “Wet Cement” feels like the clouds just parted to let the sun peek through after a springtime rainstorm, and displays some crafty lyrics (this album is littered with them) with singer Chris Chu using lines like:
“Someone was calling shots before we woke up/the broken record spins good and bad luck/and with my broken pair of black eyes/I still see white when the snow falls lightly/in the steady purr of the days/that brought us here while we tried to lose faith/we face fact all the way.”
“Cold War (Nice Clean Fight)” is so catchy, yet so short that it leaves an urge to be played over and over again. While “Mason Jar” is full of moody soundscapes that evoke the feelings of someone dropping the weight of a detrimental personal relationship off their shoulders and leaving behind a hole in the ground, as Chu sings “so do us a favor and go on your way.”
There is no uncomfortable feeling in saying that this is an almost flawless record that will be one of the best in a year littered with highly anticipated releases from veteran acts and hyped newbies. Big Echo is highly addictive from its first notes and deserves every listen thereafter.
– Ian Lewis
Check out this live studio performance video for “Excuses” below.