reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Father Christmas has returned bearing the most wonderful gift of all: a new album. Naturally is the first release since the eponymous debut of 2015 — and this time Kyle Peters’ solo project has been expanded into a four piece band. Naturally (a title with an interesting juxtaposition when held to the idea of Christmas) keeps the stand-out flourishes of trumpets and the hazy dreaminess that marked the project debut, but trades out lengthy deliberating tracks for more concise genre-explorations.
The album opens with “The Fall” — a melodic track driven by trumpets and effected guitars. The sense of instrumental melody allow the vocals to float in the distance. This choice of misty, dizzying tone is repeated later on the album with “Pache-Twaila” (which is introduced by the grooved out saxophone jam that is “Pickled Onion”). The bedroom-style dream-pop, however, is balanced by authentic forays into other genres. “The Garden” has an Americana twang to the guitar, and allows a fiddle to enter and exit like a memory, fostering a wistfulness. In spite of being the title track, “Naturally” is another change of pace: this one a dark-wave throwback to the 80s with a dash of bleakness: “It’s time for us to bloom / Self-meditated, medicated too / Faces melting people shouting / Time for feeling blue”.
And while we’re on the note of stand-out moments, I would be amiss not to mention the striking vitality that the trumpet and saxophone bring to this album, as gifted by Brian Moyer and Chris Weatherstone, respectively. “Sleazy” begins with a standard, 70s tinged guitar tune, then whirls widely into chaos as aided by the sax. Moyer’s trumpet line on “Twisted Ones” bolsters it to the position of standout track of the album. “Twisted Ones” is the sound of the lost hours of sunlight in the winter: it’s beauty and nostalgia for something we know will return. The feelings it evokes are addictive. Unconventional instrumentation aside, another special mention has to go to Kirk Philipps on bass. If Father Christmas can be defined as psychedelic groove pop, Philipps consistently gives the groove to the pop. Notable examples include “Hurry Up And Wait”, and the toe-tapping cadence of “Talking In Tongues”.
In the two plus years between Father Christmas’ debut and Naturally, the project has developed and shifted, but keeps to its essence. This is pop with a punch of originality; the perfect choice for any season.
Top Tracks: “Twisted Ones”; “Hurry Up and Wait”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)