Bend Beyond is the seventh album from lo-fi folk-rockers Woods. With a back catalogue bulky with periodically released and well received material, their expectant audience can prepare for an offering of more off-kilter folk-rock – but with a significant change of tack. Their formerly preferred quick recording process, allowing the unmediated capture of Jeremy Earls unfussy song writing, has been bumped for a more careful method, an infusion of Earls own sound with the anarchic feel of a live band.
The album opens with the dense and sprawling ‘Bend Beyond’, a good signifier of what’s to come; interweaving textures of guitar-heavy rock anchored by the Earls strong melodic writing. This is followed by the albums first single, ‘Cali In A Cup’. It, like much of the album, has a familiar folk-rock sound but with subtle idiosyncrasies – the bubble of tape delay and heavily reverberated harmonica howls.
Woods do wear their influences of their sleeve, so it is these idiosyncrasies that give the band its character. With, for instance, the 60’s rock of ‘Find Them Empty’, achieving an Animals-esque sound through the instrumentation and high-end-heavy production. But it is the particularly un-hinged madness of the guitar that is the stamp of their individuality. Similarly, The folk-rock of Crosby, Stills and Nash is found notably in ‘Lily’, glimmering in thick vocal harmonies over acoustic centred accompaniment. But the lo-fi heavily panned hi-hats with the slurs and rasps of the tape effect ending inject the song with the necessary dose of distinctiveness.
Another unifying aspect of the album’s 12 songs is their short length, averaging out at just over two and half minutes long, showing commitment to one of Earl’s long established musical traits. Earl’s Neil Young-esque falsetto is another key aspect of the bands sound, a sound that does, however, fail to show much contrast throughout the album’s progression. Nevertheless, the coupling of Woods’ much loved sound with their new approach to recording is enough to please the returning fans and give them a flavour of something new. And as a seventh album, Bend Beyond is proof of Woods’ unfaltering lo-fi mastery.
Released on 18th September 2012 by Woodsist Records