Woods, “City Sun Eater in the River of Light”

Woods-2016-City_Sun_Eater_coverWoods
City Sun Eater in the River of Light
WOODSIST
7/10

It makes sense that, after eleven years and eight albums, psych-folk act Woods have decided to shake things up a bit. For City Sun Eater in the River of Light, their ninth LP, they ventured to a place they rarely go: a proper studio, with all the frills. This new polish yields intriguing results.

For one, the group has stripped off the lo-fi fuzz that’s always grown on their previous material. That allows great details, like the plucky guitar line that introduces the album, to get the attention they deserve. Jeremy Earl’s famous falsetto is double-tracked, front and center—which means if his voice is something that’s kept you from fully enjoying Woods in the past, you’re not going to like this album; in a river of light this bright, you can hear the places where Earl doesn’t 100 percent sell that falsetto.

It’s hard to say if this material is better or worse than what’s on, say, At Echo Lake—but to do so would be missing the point. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is a different breed of Woods album, and it showcases some new tricks right from the start. Album opener “Sun City Creeps” takes inspiration from Mulatu Astatke, with Ethiopian horns and rhythms we haven’t heard from the Brooklyn quintet before. “Morning Light” and “Politics of Free” are other highlights; on the latter, Earl suggests, “In a world of shit, let’s tune out tonight.”

But tuning out doesn’t mean fading away. This release represents new growth in the forest. It’s a solid effort, and—assuming they keep releasing new music as steadily as they have been for over a decade—it’ll be interesting to see where this river goes in a year or so.

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