This debut album from Illinois four-piece Houndmouth already seems destined for album-of-the-year awards. It’s certainly the best down-to-earth storytelling item to emerge in ages.
Matt Myers, whose guitar playing is spellbinding, Katie Toupin, who sings like a dirty angel, Zak Appleby and Shane Cody, who lock the rhythm box-tight, are steeped in the right stuff. Their songs are right out of the Grateful Dead-meets-Kris Kristofferson hinterland, where drug deals and crap jobs go disastrously wrong; pills and crack are involved; appointments and trains are missed with bad consequences; and everyone gets home in a pretty poor state but lives to fight another day.
Not that it’s old-school. There are wrinkles and tickles of Marc Bolan and The Essex Green about; gloriously on-trend harmonies; and lyrics of genuine wit and intensity. The 12 tracks form a persuasive whole, building to a crescendo from the opening down-and-sinking feeling of On The Road to the spread-eagling ballad Palmyra. On the way stops at Casino (Bad Things) and Houston Train are compelling diversions. The singing, too, is superb; Myers and Toupin are stars in that department.
What’s not to like? Nothing. It’s all sublime.