You could call Woods’ sixth album, Bend Beyond, “cohesive,” but they probably wouldn’t want you to. G. Lucas Crane, the band’s tape effects technician, told Ragged Words, “Cohesive is one of those terms applied when you notice something. I think each of the albums have been their own weird journey or a snapshot of what was going on in everyone’s life or (singer Jeremy Earl’s) life.”
However, all the songs on Bend Beyond inexplicably fit in a way that treads the fine line between cohesion and confusion. Earl’s songwriting shows vulnerability and thoughtfulness — plausibly because of his father’s death, which coincided with Bend Beyond’s penning. The album is of the sleepy stoner jam indie variety, but manages to sound utterly sincere.
The eponymous track threads spacey themes through its lyrics, as Earl asserts that he longs to “bend beyond the light.” Opening with Simon and Garfunkel-esque harmonies, the album is drenched in a reverbed nostalgia. “Is It Honest” is an example of jaunty musicality that disguises a darker lyrical pattern. This album features vocals more prominently than its predecessor, resulting in audible wails of “it’s so fucking hard.”
“It Ain’t Easy” reminds listeners why Woods has the “freak folk” moniker. Mellow and just twangy enough, it contrasts nicely with the surf rocky feel of the instrumental “Cascade.”
Psychedelic ‘60s rockers will rejoice in “Find Them Empty.” Woods reprises the guitar work on “Cascade,” but adds a great synth line that warbles enough to induce throwback vibes. Regarding their other albums, their latest has a clearer musical direction. In an interview with Pitchfork, Earl explains that writing the album was more deliberate than their previous endeavors.
Bend Beyond succeeds at sounding more mature and well-rounded, even if it wasn’t intended.
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