March 05, 2013

Hey Marseilles - Lines We Trace

When I first heard Hey Marseilles, they instantly clicked with me. They were catchy, lively, fun, and combined indie-folk music with orchestral instrumentation. Perfect! Their debut album, To Travels & Trunks, had a magical, wondrous quality about it that gave it a sound unlike anything I had heard. When I chatted with the guys (they are as delightful as they seem) at Sasquatch last year, they revealed that they were working on their long-awaited followup. Needless to say, this was one my most anticipated albums of 2013. With their second record, Lines We Trace, the boys have grown up a bit, taken things back to Earth, and have done something very difficult. They have made a sophomore record that is at least equal in quality to their popular debut, without making a carbon copy, or alienating any fans. In general, the songs are mellower, more melancholic, and just as lovely.

Hey Marseilles-"Heart Beats"

While their debut is still one of my favorite folk albums in recent years, I have little doubt that Lines We Trace will get there too. The songwriting is much more mature on this record, taking more risks and longer, more developed tangents. The strings seem to be closer to the forefront than ever before and sound absolutely fantastic accompanied by the pleasant voice of Matt Bishop. The more I listen to his voice, the more it started to sound like a younger James Mercer: simple, peaceful, and calming.

"Heart Beats" is this album's jam-out indie anthem. While it is not as catchy as "To Travels & Trunks" from their debut, it hits harder, and features fiery electric guitar chugging. Their 2011 single "Elegy" and its gorgeous b-side "Cafe Lights" finally find a home on this album. They fit right in, especially the attention-grabbing string swells on "Cafe Lights" that would instantly wake anyone previously soothed by Bishop's sweet odes. The cello, captained by Samuel Anderson, sounds extraordinarily full, and the group's classical influences get the spotlight on "Madrona," a beautiful, elegant, instrumental classical number.

In the track "Heart Beats" Bishop sings "I still believe you love me, but in a different way." That's exactly it. I love this record, and I loved their debut. Just in a different way.

You can buy the album from the band's website here or on iTunes here.

Also, they will be performing in Boston at the Brighton Music Hall on March 29th. Buy tickets here!


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