Woods has been around since 2005. One of few indie bands who has stood the test of time, with a constant release of over ten albums in the last decade. Their latest album “Strange to Explain” is a testament to their ability to grow and improve. What started out as a solo project with lo-fi production has now grown to a unique and sophisticated sound with a clear direction and aesthetic.
“Strange to Explain” revolves around themes that are hard to grasp. Motifs like dreams, visions, mysteries and sleep crop up quite frequently. Woods invites us to grasp these concepts before it evaporates into mist as at the slightest touch. Supported by a sonic combination of psychedelic tones, misty folk rock and ethereal vocals, which Jeremy Earl delivers with his airy falsetto.
“Next to You and the Sea” opens up in a trance-like state. A wailing mellotron sighs with oohs and aahs in a drone rhythm as Earl details a recurring vision that bounces between love and loss. “Where Do You Go When You Dream” is the thesis of the whole album. The band paints an enigmatic soundscape full of curiosity and gloom. The lyrics detail a fluttering of imagery that dances along to the keys and the mellow tones of the guitar. “Can’t Get Out” is where Earl’s vocals rise up from its weightlessness to belt up with urgency. “Can’t get back / Can’t get out / Can’t take a breath / Can you be?”
The title track is a declaration on how Woods has remained prolific throughout their career. As Earl states: “You can reinvent yourself so you don’t slip away.” Change can be a daunting proposition that holds many uncertainties, and that is something every artist must overcome in order to keep things fresh and not get burnt out. This in my opinion is the catchiest and most meaningful track in the album.
This album also showcases instrumentals that you’d be remiss to think are interludes. “The Void” is full of sound and color. Starting off as an unassuming jam between guitars, drums and organs until a beefy brass beckons by the bridge, stringing everything together to a glorious conclusion. Another instrumental is “Weekend Wind” which closes the album and runs at seven minutes. A bold choice that may run the risk of the listener trailing off, but its steady trickle of unique and interesting sounds could keep anyone glued and grooving to the beat.
“Strange to Explain” may explore mysterious themes, but these are held together by bright and wondrous tones, keeping your interest at bay. The kind of mystery and intrigue where you would want to know what’s next. It’s a concept that I’m still finding (ehem) strange to explain.