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The Head and the Heart opens up on 'Let's Be Still'

October 15, 2013|By August Brown
  • "Let's Be Still" by the Head and the Heart.
"Let's Be Still" by the Head and the Heart. (Sub Pop )

Mumford & Sons have called it a day (for now) at the top of their game. Avicii is dropping bluegrass into his overcaffeinated EDM. Ed Sheeran is hanging out with Taylor Swift and One Direction. What the heck is going on with mainstream folk music today?

Now that we're a few years into the pickin'-and-grinnin' takeover of U.S. top-40, the world's vintage-clad pop acts are figuring out where to go next. The Seattle combo the Head and the Heart opens up a bit on "Let's Be Still," its first since 2009's surprise self-titled hit, proving there is life after banjos for these bands.

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The now-seasoned group finds a few new ways to elaborate on its makeout-ready mountain music. The band pads its juke-hall country with Roxy Music synths on "Summer Time," and "Homecoming Heroes" has a bit of Elliott Smith's major-to-minor chord quirks.

Some tracks, such as "Shake," hew a little close to the Mumford-led formula, a sound as cliched now as ever. But "Cruel" has a clear melody and strong enough delivery to almost make a play at mainstream country radio. Sometimes the best way for a band to move forward is to do something entirely expected — write a solid song and play it well.

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The Head and the Heart

"Let's Be Still"

(Sub Pop)

Two and a half stars (out of four)

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