Springtime and quiet psych-folk go hand in hand for me. As we shake the dust off of another mild Florida winter, the weather has found a sweet spot before the seven-month stretch of summer ahead. The second full-length release from Murals—Violet City Lantern—has arrived just in time for an early-spring spin.
Murals is impressively adept at naming their albums. Listening to their 2012 self-released debut, On a Passing Cloud, feels just like floating by wistfully on a folky dreamboat in the sky (I especially recommend “Eyes of Love” from that release, a modern classic). Violet City Lantern, released this February on Fire Talk records, represents a development of their sound, incorporating more instruments and a firm dedication to colorfully-patterned psych elements. The album carves a unique place for itself, gently pushing boundaries and brewing a delicious blend of genres and influences, from the Beach Boys to mellow folk pop.
Beginning and ending with the sounds of rain, Violet City Lantern is a cleansing experience, carrying a hint of renewal that is right on time for spring. The album is interspersed with sublime instrumental interludes, like “Warm Country Magic” and “Shimmering Pond.” These give breath to the music, leaving space where words may not suffice. Hints of reverb-soaked beach rock creep in on tracks like “The Lost Star,” sounding like Real Estate took an Arctic vacation. Every song is an exercise in restraint, as the volume rarely pushes beyond a mellow buzz. The psych elements feel more reverent than gimmicky, lending a vintage tinge to tracks like “White Wheel,” with its sleigh bells and harp flourishes. Memorable track “Adina” is softly resonant with a catchy groove, though it’s difficult to choose a standout moment on an album full of beautiful touches. Each close listen reveals something new, as the multi-layered current of the music gently ripples by.
Introspective and pleasantly smooth, Violet City Lantern is an impressive continuation of the Murals arc. With its unobtrusive groove and relaxed ease, the album will get a lot of play (at least from me) long into the year.