[ download ]
Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: here’s an indie-pop band from the Pacific Northwest that writes literate, fey compositions about love and travel gilded with strings, trumpet, and accordion… one of whose members is named Colin.
Hey Marseilles may have a lot in common with The Decemberists (I somehow doubt it’s a comparison they would be eager to play down), but they also bring enough originality to the table to overcome whatever commonalities exist. It’s irrefutable that the two acts are spiritually kindred. However, Hey Marseilles takes Colin Meloy’s impeccable blueprint in a different direction than his now-familiar sea chantey meets chamber-pop routine. Where Meloy seems primarily concerned with mood and tone, Hey Marseilles focus on texture and detail, as evidenced on “Rio,” the fourth track from their forthcoming debut LP, To Trunks and Travels (slated for a June 29th release via Onto Entertainment).
“Rio” begins in a tizzy of handclaps before letting other elements roll in, first in a trickle of acoustic guitar, then in a gush of drums, violin, and cello. When Matthew Bishop begins singing his verses, facets of the soundtrack are tamped down, allowing more space for the listener to take in his clever turns of phrase. “Love is a hazard in lower Manhattan / You cannot escape and mustn’t be saddened / By men who abandon / Your eyes for another / There are always Brazilian boys to discover,” is a special favorite of mine, its slanted rhymes and consolatory punchline landing effortlessly. As “Rio” draws to a close, all of its musical themes dovetail elegantly, creating an enjoyable finish and a desire to hear the whole thing all over again.