Springhill – Contemporary Theories
Last year, Carradini, our fearless editor-in-chief, wrote a review on Springhill’s debut EP A Year from the Valley. While I have not heard the EP myself, I can safely judge from the review that not much has changed for Springhill in the way of musicality, or much else for that matter. Contemporary Theories is a solid album with some catchy melodies and interesting vocal hooks, but there isn’t much that “hasn’t been done before.” Perhaps this mindset is just an aftereffect of all the “push the envelope” albums that have come out in the last few months by artists like Panda Bear, Deerhunter and Patrick Wolf.
While Springhill might not have brought anything particularly interesting or special to the table, this does not mean that Contemporary Theories is a poorly done album. Springhill draws much of their influence from Dave Matthews and Dave Matthews-like artists. The album starts out with “Blues in Paradise,” which features a wonderful electric guitar solo and has some of the best vocals on the album. The following tracks are similar in fashion, but not as impressive. “No Better Place” is a great track that just screams “chill.”
After a few downer tracks, Springhill suddenly takes a rather quirky turn. “The Pirate Song” is just what the name implies. Vocalist Dan Prokop croons that he is a pirate, “the last real kind/drinking booze all afternoon.” As quickly as they turn to pirates, the members of Springhill turn to kings in an anthem about the evils of monarchy in “Long Live the King.” The downer tracks return with the gem of the album, “Hope.” After “The Pirate Song, I needed some “Hope” for this album. The track features a sweeping piano line and a matching set of excellent vocals. This piano line returns with only a bass in “Frantic Dreamer.” As you can see, a trend has been set. Tracks with strong piano presence > tracks without strong piano presence. You do the math.
Contemporary Theories is not a weak album and doesn’t lack in very many areas, but somehow I felt a little deceived by the title. Currently, our favorite true indie artists seem to be in the mindset of pushing the envelope further. I guess Springhill is saving it for their next album. This album does show, however, that they have a great deal of potential and will be able to go in whichever direction they so choose.