Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Room In the Trees - The Innocence Mission

My Room In the Trees

The Innocence Mission
Badman Records.

SCQ Rating: 75%

The Innocence Mission have a longer history than most people care to remember, first grabbing attention for their self-titled record and that mid-90s contribution to the Empire Records soundtrack. Since then, the band has nurtured a steady (if characteristically low-key) fanbase by consistently churning out relaxed but oft stunning albums that center on tasteful guitar and Karen Peris’ lovely vocals. Featuring gentle guitar lilts and pedal-heavy piano, My Room In the Trees is another successful outing that will inexplicably dodge the Starbucks crowd… but I’m sure die-hard fans won’t mind that.

Having always carried a seasonal sensitivity in their records, The Innocence Mission grab for their spring jackets with My Room In the Trees, its arrangements dotted in puddles of accompanied piano and drizzly guitar figures. Match these somber green and grey tones with Peris’ singular voice and a song like ‘The Happy Mondays’ will keep even the umbrella-loving crowd inspired. As with previous discs, drumming is kept to a minimum but still creates a sway of breezy momentum for instrumental ‘Mile-marker’ and the Spanish-guitar of ‘God Is Love’. On the shoulders of these tracks, My Room In the Trees boasts perhaps the band’s most outwardly coffee-house approved disc yet and, while only a cynic would seek to reduce their oeuvre because of its complimentary existence with caffeine, I do take solace in their cloudiest, percussion-free laments. ‘Rhode Island’ and ‘North American Field Song’ both dance along the wire separating moody from uplifting, stagnant from graceful.

I suppose the band’s history feels overlong because my first Innocence Mission experience occurred well after their breakthrough, with the GusGus remix of ‘Snow’. Alternately, every record they’ve released since has played with identical dynamics and idyllic lyricism; a level of consistency focused enough to suspend time. On one hand this may suggest that The Innocence Mission are simply reinventing their catalog but, on the other hand, this consistency ensures that any fan of their previous work will also fall in love with My Room In the Trees.

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