I love being sucker-punched by great music. It's always nice when a band makes a lovely sound, but when they throw in elements that didn't appear initially, that's when I just lose it. Today, dear readers, while listening to New York-based Folksongs for the Afterlife's debut, Put Danger Back In Your Life, I officially lost it. I'm going to admit it here, I'm only going to say it once, but I just want to clear up any rumors that might develop: I LOVE Folksongs For The Afterlife. I love the singing. I love the guitar parts. I love the noise. I love the charm. I love the little recorded goodies like crickets chirping and scratchy vinyl between songs. I love this record. Period.
I first heard Folksongs for the Afterlife on the recent Parasol's Sweet Sixteen collection. The song included on the sampler, "Did I Let You Down?," is a bossa-nova number with a great beat, and lead singer Caroline Schultz sounds just like Astrid Gilberto, all breathy sighs and seductive singing. I wasn't surprised; Parasol's a label that specializes in this kind of music. Every time I listened to the sampler, I almost always started my listen at Folksongs' selection. When Put Danger Back In Your Life arrived in my mailbox, I was excited, because I was expecting the sounds of modern bossa nova pop.
What I did not expect was the shimmer and shine of a band with a full, lush, Lush sound. I have a strong feeling that the members of Folksongs for the Afterlife own and know by heart every recorded note that Lush made. It became quite apparent that my initial notions of them being a bossa nova/electronic pop band were way, way off. Sure, that song led me in, and there's a tinge of that kind of sound throughout the album, but it was an emotional bait-and-switch that I fell in love with immediatly. How could I not? Schultz has that voice, which quickly recalls the terribly, terribly-missed Miki Bereyni. You could make a someone a copy of Spooky, slip "Different Light" in the middle, and none would be the wiser for it.
All of the talk of Lush should not, however, be construed that Folksongs for the Afterlife are co-opting their style. While it is true that there's a definite inspiration, Folksongs for the Afterlife take that sound to new heights, creating a sound and style all their own. From dazzling dreampop numbers like "Summer Loop" to the utterly blissful pop of "Lockaway" and "Dark Room" and the utterly gorgeous "Did I Let You Down?," Put Danger Back In Your Life is an aural treat that will remind you of all the records that you love, and will happily remind you that good music never goes out of style. A beautiful debut from a wonderful band. Don't call Folksongs for the Afterlife a "band to watch," because they're already here.