The Skygreen Leopards
Life & Love in Sparrow’s Meadow
Can we please call the current freak-folk movement played yet? Please? I liked Rejoicing in the Hands as much as the next guy when I heard it, but I haven’t touched it since my review. I certainly don’t think Devendra Banhart is cut out for the status of musical godhead, even if his presence in the indie world brought pothead balladeers like The Skygreen Leopards along in a de facto entourage.
The title of Life & Love in Sparrow’s Meadow gives you all the necessary clues to decide if the album’s your cup of tea. It’s a disc rife with, um, kinda poetic imagery about animals frolicking and stuff. At least that’s what I’ve been able to glean from the atonal and detached delivery of both Donovan Quinn’s and Glenn Donaldson’s mush-mouthed, squeaky whispers.
The music is where the album starts hitting its good notes. A mid-’60s vibe permeates much of the album. Gently ascending acoustic guitar lines are aided by understated Rickenbacker lead guitar and a veritable cornucopia of musical bric-a-brac: Jew’s harp on “Mother the Sun Makes Me Cry,” harmonica and train whistle color “Belle of the Woodman’s Autumn Ball,” and so on. The band’s most ambitious song in both delivery and title length, “Careless Gardeners (of Eden)/Sparrows of Eden (Eden Fading)/Drunken Gardeners Dance (Paradise Lost Sweetly),” manages to briefly flirt with the shambolic grandeur that makes UK post-rock bands like Movietone and Appendix Out so enjoyable. Field recordings of birds singing are spliced into the song, which gradually and radically morphs from a love-in rave up to a chilly morning after. More solidly creative moments like these and maybe I could’ve grasped this album better, instead of letting it blissfully slip from my memory as it’s doing currently