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.
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.
"Let's Be Still"
Two and a half stars (out of four)