Five albums on, Petals finds Colorado-based Elephant Revival luring its listeners through hypnotic melodies and a subtle sense of design. Nevertheless, there are some darker discoveries at play here, as the group unleashes a sound that seems somewhat at odds with its populist approach. The players ply their skills with such subtlety and finesse, the results are consistently mesmerizing.
In many ways, singer Bonnie Paine’s waif-like vocals bear an unerring similarity to Feist. Her counterpart, multi-instrumentalist Charlie Rose, successfully manipulates the sound, giving it a burnished folk-like approach that emphasizes that upturned gaze. Consequently, “Peace Tonight,” “On and On,” and “Season Song” are delivered with a flush that leaves the music sounding akin to meditative hymns, wrapped in both reverence and wonder.
To be sure, Petals (released April 1 on Thirty Tigers) is not the kind of album that would do well as background for a celebration. Only the gentle pluck and ramble of “Furthest Shore” and the swelled harmonies of “Sea Monster” manage to quicken the pace, and then only slightly, at that. However, there’s no denying the haunting spell the group casts throughout. Listening to “Hello You Who,” with its mesmerizing arrangement of cellos and chamber strings, gives the feeling that something ominous is waiting in the wings. Suffice it to say, Petals is one precious piece of work.