Hey Rosetta!’s lead singer and songwriter Tim Baker has a knack for summarizing everything that’s going on around you. Personal struggles, ongoing news stories, or whatever is causing the highs and lows of life, Baker crafts all of these feelings into complex songs. They are anthemic and universal. Paired with the diverse soundscapes created by the other talented band members, the music of Hey Rosetta! has a power that not many bands posses. In this their fourth album, it seems very appropriate that another batch of songs that goes beyond normal sensory contact be called Second Sight.
Second Sight is not a bold change for the band but rather a continuation of what the band does best. The band swings from lush string sections (Kinley Dowling, Romesh Thavanathan), upbeat pop-infused rock numbers (Adam Hogan, Phil Maloney, Josh Ward) and sombre piano driven songs that leave you breathless.
With ease, “Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering)” welcomes you to Second Sight thanks to its melodious sounds and a familiarly complex writing style. In a continuation of the familiar, “Gold Teeth” is a great continuation of Seeds’ standout song “Welcome.” In “the song of your birth,” “Gold Teeth” matches a realistic take of the world with an unembellished vocal and instrumental delivery that creates a vivid illustration of the world.
Perhaps my tendencies this year to match my melancholic twenty-something woes to the music I am listening to is the reason why I think “Dream” and “What Arrows” are the two standouts from Second Sight. As the album’s longest song, “What Arrows’” is not flashy with memorable, per se, pop riffs but instead rest quietly on your chest. A song about connecting as a result of “it” (whatever it may be), “it curves in through the weather, it’s coming from above and it brought us together.” It’s a powerful thing.
In a slow build, for a song that’s under four minutes, “Dream” fills out to an instrumentally and vocally complex offering that’s pushed even further as a result of an always catchy “ooh” inclusion. Those bright spots aside, Baker’s lyrics will touch those who struggle to remain confident but still hope for the best. The following verse needs to stand on its own to show this:
who says we can’t. who says we can’t, who says we shouldn’t
who says we couldn’t, make it just like we love it
why can’t we, just like a dream?
The experimentation from Hey Rosetta! in Second Sight comes only briefly but is noteworthy. Songs like “Kintsukuroi” and “Neon Beyond” err on a more “mainstream” sound for the band and include some instrumentation variation not quite heard before. “Kintsukuroi” sunny guitar riff throughout is fresh and “Neon Beyond”’s moveable and percussion heavy verses is getting the song compared to a Vampire Weekend creation.
In the latter half of the record, “Cathedral Bells” shows an acoustic and more minimal side of the band, not unlike “Bandages”, while “Alcatraz” is another slow burner but this time a symphony-like accompaniment carries Baker’s vocals to a far off place.
Although it lacks the vitality of Seeds, Second Sight keeps the powerful force that is Hey Rosetta! going.
Top Tracks: “Dream,” “What Arrows”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)