Of carnival escapades and tribal sing-alongs that beget backwoods gospel gatherings of yore, Bodies Of Water have seated themselves alongside a rather conspicuous movement. Group harmonies and choral collaboration are certainly nothing new in pop music, although lately the aesthetic seems unavoidable. A few organ drones here, the occasional horn section there, and faster than you can say `The Arcade Fire’ you’ve another next big thing on your hands. What distances this Los Angeles band from the fray, though, isn’t their propensity for soaring Springsteen-ian adoration. A Certain Feeling is more Beefheart than Boss, and that, simply, is why it’s so refreshing.
From a music scene as far-flung and sprawled as the landscape where it sprung, Bodies Of Water’s surging psychedelic syncopation seems as alien as a day in the valley without sun. The band’s second effort (and first for Secretly Canadian) saunters tipsily with no definitive style to call its own. At times the plodding organs recall penitent prog dirges (the second half of “If I Were A Bell”). Tempos fluctuate often, at first jarringly but familiar with repeat listens. Finding kindred spirits in Ritalin-deprived contemporaries The Fiery Furnaces, Bodies Of Water discard typical song structures in favor of sudden shifts and the occasional well-merited riff (“Keep Me On”).
While sometimes the act can seem a little too well practiced, it’s never overwrought. Moments of delicate devotion (“Only You”) deliver the band to more ascendant peaks of pop pageantry, but the sentiment still rings achingly true. “Under The Pines” could be a parade procession for all the blaring horns and adamant adulation, while “Even In A Cave” submerges its moribund lyrics (“In the shelter of your car, pinned by your rubble, I cannot help the way I feel“) beneath the album’s most menacing guitars.
With no true center to cling to in their home town, Bodies Of Water have done that which seems most destined to bring them the attention they deserve: to distance themselves as far from the recognizable pop that litters the airwaves like so much smog.
MP3: “Under the Pines”