Named after a small woodland bird with distinctly American associations, Philly’s Hermit Thrushes are one of those refreshingly unclassifiable bands, using mishmash to their advantage and taking “experimental” to mean free-for-all. There are definitely threads of psychedelia in their tunes, as disorienting tempos and trippy found-sounds blend with overstimulating instrumental bits and parts. Fittingly, the members themselves are known for their wacky antics – live shows often feature zany behavior and outfits, and frontman Yianni Kourmadas is said to have gained inspiration and field recordings from a mystical journey through Greece.
The cramming of all these elements into their second album Slight Fountain is anchored in the bedrock of familiar 90s indie music, so that through the clamor there are discernable structures and melodic shards to hum. One might even go so far as to call Hermit Thrushes two bands combined into one more enticing whole: Kourmadas’ cute, meek vocals and lo-fi strumming overlap with a group of tinkering music nerds who experiment with sounds and noises like a bored teenager. They also contain a fair share of goofiness, overall making them comparable to early Ween and The Unicorns.
Lead single “Snowflake Heart” is a delightfully catchy track that goes miles with the repeated line “The scent of almonds,” its spastic beginning softened by an adorable acoustic phrase before elevating to a flurry of glockenspiel, quivering horns, and hyper drums and guitar. And as for that bedrock of 90s: “Push” recalls The Olivia Tremor Control in its ordered yet cacophonous tempo, as does “Golden Wounds” after its stint of shimmery wind chime clanging. The summertime “Song From Boat” faintly recalls Built To Spill, building on one repeated phrase with clacks, clangs and woozy guitar variations. Hermit Thrushes’ consistent strength is that they keep it interesting, whether one looks for sheer pop in their music, or the more intricate details of song craft.