It’s plenty easy in indie rock to put your most heartfelt effort into your music and still go completely unnoticed. However, every now and again, a new band surfaces with a collection of songs that references what has worked for other artists time and again while showing new strength and creativity. Groups like Fleet Foxes and MGMT have pulled off impressive debut records in the past couple of years, while still offering something familiar, and Danish four-piece Treefight for Sunlight pulls off a similar appeal on their American debut, A Collection of Vibrations for Your Skull.
Overall, Treefight combines a piano-based folk aesthetic, vocal harmonies with the power of Animal Collective and a creative aesthetic that leans towards ’60s psychedelia, to craft driving and catchy pop tunes. Featuring eight full-length tracks, an engaging intro and an oddly fitting interlude that heavily references noise outfits like HEALTH, the album is an adventurous, 34-minute ride through a sharply tuned land of melodic bliss. At times, the sound is blissful (“Facing the Sun,” “What Became of You and I”), but the boys of Treefight are not afraid to go darker in tracks like the moody closer, “Time Stretcher.”
The general sound of the album flows in a similar fashion to Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut, but the explosions of sound in the songs themselves ring closer to the projects of Animal Collective members like Panda Bear. And while Treefight for Sunlight definitely has a signature sound to them, they aren’t afraid to explore new territory on a regular basis. The album constantly references more the psychedelic efforts of The Beatles or Bowie, and “They Never Did Know” evolves from a folksy anthem into a flute-driven instrumental that sounds more akin to Jefferson Airplane than any contemporary psych-popsters.
And like the artists Treefight for Sunlight take influence from, the lyrical tone of each song is just as finely tuned as the instrumentation. Underneath overlapping melodies and harmonies, the listener is treated to a beautiful sort of honesty. From the opening line of the album — “All the nurses are going to leave me,” the vocal lines are sweet and poppy, but still eccentric and thoughtful in the best way.
All in all, A Collection of Vibrations for Your Skull is a powerful and thoughtful first release from a genuinely talented quartet of musicians. At such a short length, the album is almost an understatement of the band’s potential. With dedication and a little bit of luck, I’m confident we’ll see the band blossom into household name, at least among the indie-pop crowd.