Out from the ashes of what was Lullaby for the Working Class comes Mayday, and it's almost as if Ted Stevens and his friends haven't been away at all. This is elaborate pastoral folk unlike anything else, and if it's hard to avoid name-checking Nick Drake, Mayday's sound is far more layered and intricate and ultimately, for this listener, far more compelling and satisfying than his.
Mayday tip-toe around their songs, at times they seem to barely want to move for fear of ruining the brilliant beauty they convey. Not to say that this is either repetitive or genteel music, far from it, the songs move around like mad, but they do so in a careful manner, always feeling their way, never bursting into chaos where a quiet whisper will do. So that when they do break into frantic, chaotic noisescapes, it seems necessary, almost, as if they've tried to get their meaning across in every other way and this is their last way out, a final, frustrated scream.
It's great to hear Conor Oberst back in fine form as he takes the lead vocals on "Confession," and elsewhere "Lullaby for the Sleeping Elephant" is worth singling out for its sheer force and weary-eyed beauty -- but it seems unfair, really, to highlight single tracks. This is an impressive and panoramic album from a band that amazingly manages to move above and beyond the reputation of Lullaby.
No album without a hidden track or four. Here you'll find them before the album starts, meaning you'll have to press play and rewind from track one to discover ten extra minutes of lovely Mayday.
Saddle Creek: http://www.saddle-creek.com