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Bitter Hands Resign

A Northern Chorus
Bitter Hands Resign
(Sonic Unyon)

A Northern Chorus dropped their gorgeous Spirit Flags about two years ago and with that release marked themselves as a band to watch as they created delay-drenched guitar post rock epics that blended warm vocal melodies for something that stood out just a bit from the pack. Bitter Hands Resign is the follow-up from the group (technically the third release from the group, the second on Sonic Unyon) and it continues down the path set out upon by their debut.

The first thing that I mentioned about Bitter Hands Resign is that it has some of the most lovely production that I've heard on a release yet this year. As usual, the group doesn't rely on overpowering sonic assaults to drive their point home, but they manage to get by on some subtle tension and a whole load of atmosphere. With eight tracks that run almost fifty minutes in total length, this once again isn't an album of short tracks that develop quickly, but as is the case with many bands doing somewhat similar things, that's not really the point.

"The Shepherd & The Chauffeur" opens the release with what may be the best song on the album as well as one of the best that the group has done to date. After an opening in which soaring guitars create a powerful wash of sound, the track retreats to more fragile ground as strings and a quiet rythym mingle with subtle male/female vocal harmonies before the track slowly gains ground and then falls back again. "Subjects & Matter" follows with another slowly-developing track that mingles chiming guitars with some punctual effects and some nice dynamic changes that really help the track from falling into a rut.

Unfortunately, the group does seem to rely a bit too much on mood during a couple tracks, and songs like "This Open Heart" and "Costa Del Sol" drift by with plenty of beautiful instrumentation, but almost formless melodies fail to really grab. On the other hand, the short "Watershed Divide" strips things back to strings/piano/guitar and pulls things off nicely with intertwining melodies that slowly pull tighter and more uplifting as the song progresses. Despite many bands doing somewhat similar things, there's nobody that's really doing quite what A Northern Chorus is (although the closest might be labelmates Raising The Fawn). If you're searching for dreamy post rock with vocals, this should be right up your alley.

Rating: 6.5