[Album Review] The Acorn- Vieux Loop
3.0Rating
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

theacorn

Release Date: May 19th, 2015
Label: Paper Bag Records

One thing is pretty clear after listening to The Acorn’s first release in five years: they certainly picked an appropriate name for it. Vieux Loup (Old Wolf for confused Anglophones) is subdued but sharp, like an elderly creature whose physical strength is in decline but only grows wiser on the other end of things. In place of the upbeat traditional folk from their previous work is a collection of eight haunting tracks that incorporate more experimental elements and are packaged into precise, poignant arrangements.

While the album’s high quality production and subtle instrumental choices are definitely a plus, it’s hindered by a repetitiveness that keeps it from being any greater than the sum of its parts. Almost every song begins with a soft blend of guitar and percussion that builds up slightly as things progress, but rarely all that much. Album opener “Rapids” draws you in with that gentle beauty, but by the time we hear “Artefacts” close things out, the trance-like feeling has worn off and we’re ready to move on to something else.

The few songs that vary from this steadiness are a welcome interruption. “Palm Springs” resembles a classic rock and roll song, but makes good use of whistling synth and guitar noises in the background to give it an endearingly eerie texture. “Dominion” is a mandolin-heavy duet that picks the tempo up and gives us proof that The Acorn still remembers how to do a semi-conventional folk song. Even “Influence,” which works within the aforementioned structure, is at least able to distinguish itself more than the others by constantly changing up the beat and adding in a prominent bass.

You have to give the band credit for branching out and exploring a new type of sound, but the lack of significant variation throughout the album dilutes the novelty of it. Even though Vieux Loup is a relatively short album, it can’t escape the classic trap of having a bit too much of a good thing.