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It isn’t always the case, but sometimes you can tell a lot about a band by their name. The Lighthouse and the Whaler, for instance, suggests a certain breed of literate ambition, a sound that is misty and far reaching, not fiery and filled with bluster. It is fitting, then, that this Cleveland trio creates such intricate musical environments, one which are immediately inhabitable and fleshed out with well-crafted details. Over the course of a their 2008 debut four-song EP and their self-titled debut full-length (released this past December), The Lighthouse and the Whaler have been slowly winning over audiences. I consider that pace a shame, since their LP was easily one of the greatest releases of 2009 and arguably its most impressive debut effort; these guys should have more fans, stat.
Owing as much to Americana and revisionist folk as it does to the leafy arrangements of chamber-pop, The Lighthouse and the Whaler’s sound is delicate in appearance but sturdy in its construction. On “Of the Heavens and the Earth,” the mood is set with rising undulations of strings, electric piano chords, and softly strummed acoustic guitar. However, the track’s main attraction are the vocal harmonies which power its choruses–impeccably executed melodies which billow into near crescendi and later deliquesce into the instrumental components. Reviewers too often discuss the voice as instrument, but here is an occasion where such a claim is warranted–not simply because the singing is so flawlessly rendered, but more because the actual role of the harmonies feels so instrumental (no pun intended).