Family Tree – Lohio
I’ve been housebound for days, while the north wind whips the snow across glassy roads and the mercury plummets to -22C. It’s pitch black by 5:00. Days like these, you need an escape.
I found it in Family Tree, the new EP by Pittsburgh’s Lohio, a quartet that somehow manages to come across like a vast musical army. The comparisons are inevitable – the breeziness of Sufjan Stevens, the symphonic sensibilities of the Polyphonic Spree, the grandeur of Arcade Fire, with touches of Wilco’s experimentation.
It all makes for an exuberant blast of musical sunshine. Yet with discordant fuzziness playing off against spritely pianos, complex lyrics belying effervescent harmonies, the five tracks on Family Tree are no mere beach music.
The lead track, Leave The City, Leave Your Room, may burst forth with the bounciness of an offering from I’m From Barcelona (minus the annoyance), but it soon becomes evident that this music has considerable legs. One minute I am breezing down the highway with the wind in my hair listening to the title track, the next I am lost in a masterful guitar riff that morphs into a band camp chorus and a splendidly cacophonous finale in Wind and Leaves. The military tattoo drum arrangement on Adelai belies the breeziness of the boy-girl harmonies and the plunky piano, questioning whether the wolves are coming after them. The gentle sombre beauty of the final track, Funeral Song, provides a solid counterpoint to the overall pop sensibility.
Family Tree is an solidly satisfying album, an unexpected melding of influences that manifests in a strangely addictive sound. I want more.