The midpoint of the year is the perfect time for summer music ~ sets whose sounds evoke holidays, carnivals, fireworks and marching bands. Etch and Etch Deep fits the bill, and seems tailor-made for picnics in the park. Earlier this year, the band teamed up with Jilk for the amazing “Periscopes” single, and is now ready to unveil its second full-length album. Just look at that cover! We’re already having a good time.
While Etch and Etch Deep is a more mature album than its predecessor, Haiku Salut’s sound remains instantly recognizable. Lead single “Bleak and Beautiful (All Things)” sets the stage with an engaging piano, upbeat electronics and crisp production. At 2:20, an accordion transforms the song into a calliope of color. All that’s missing is the cotton candy. “Hearts Not Parts” begins with New Order-esque bass and snares and sweet “oohing” before settling into a long, calm interlude. The glockenspiel signals the jump back into the fray. It’s a slightly different style than what we are used to hearing from the trio, but it’s extremely effective.
Haiku Salut uses instruments with friendly timbres and plays them with what might be described as a sense of innocent wonder. According to band member Sophie Barkerwood, a trip to Norway last year left the band humbled in the presence of villages and mountains: the small and the large together. “You make your own meaning”, writes Barkerwood. “There is nobody controlling your future.” With this in mind, the trio chooses creativity over stagnation, joy over despair. Etch and Etch Deep is a happy album, but carries some weight: the weight of knowing what must be conquered in order to adopt a positive outlook. Alternating between quiet and loud, sparse and stuffed, tracks such as “Skip to the End” illustrate the tug of war between two moods or two wolves. This internal battle was less apparent on the previous album, but allows the listener to feel an emotional synthesis in the sonic burst of the closing track. This burst mirrors that of the first track, demonstrating how far the band has come, considering other options before concluding that yes, they still choose hope.
It would have been easy for Haiku Salut to rest on their laurels, risking the tag of “twee” often given to any act with a ukulele and glockenspiel. But Haiku Salut is so much more than that. Their new sound is both playful and mature, a rare combination in music. Etch and Etch Deep is not only the sound of a fun summer, but a worthy summer, one of hard work and well-deserved play. On this LP, the trio steps outside of their influences and makes its own meaning. Current fans will be pleased, while newcomers will likely be enchanted. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 31 July