There’s a heady, ethereal quality to Seattle’s The Soft Hills, and nowhere is it captured better than on the band’s most recent full-length. On The Bird Is Coming Down to Earth, bandmates Garrett Hobba, Brittan Drake, Randall Skrasek, and Brett Massa have expanded their musical palette to include more psych-tinged guitar tones, whirling vintage organ notes, and echo-heavy vocal effects. (Mid-album tripper “River Boat” is an especially worthy highlight.) At the center still, though, is Hobba, whose poetic lyrical waxings and far-off intonations make The Soft Hills stand out from their innumerable Northwest-indie-rock contemporaries. Lead single (and lead track) “Phoenix” is a tambo- and harmony-laden little number, while “Midnight Owls” is an eerie, synth-warbled affair, but they manage to work alongside each other and evoke a sense of tripped-out mysticism that’s both subtle and intoxicating.


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