In the high-octane world of alternative music, it’s sometimes nice to take a step back for something a bit more chilled. That’s the road Seattle quintet Hey Marseilles have taken on their self-titled third full-length, covering the listener in swathes of expansive folk and electronica-tinged indie.
There are parts of this album that come across as the midpoint between fun. and Bastille – it’s incredibly slick and percussive, but unashamedly camp and grand in scale (plus, it doesn’t hurt that frontman Matt Bishop bears more than a passing resemblance to the former’s Nate Reuss). Couple this with waves of backing strings and it’s an incredibly immersive experience, as on the likes of ‘West Coast’ and ‘Perfect OK’ (which features a cameo from, of all people, American comedian and beatboxer Reggie Watts.)
But while Hey Marseilles have expanse on their side, it doesn’t compensate for their lack of vibrancy. The entire album feels so one-paced throughout, never even threatening to pick up. It feels like background music, especially on ‘Trouble’, a listless Awolnation and Blue October hybrid that never picks up from first gear.
It’s frustratingly forgettable most of the time as well. The string arrangements could be the same and it wouldn’t make a difference – that’s how lacking in any sort of pace or variation this album is, and it winds up feeling like the same song reworked nearly a dozen times.
There’s little doubt that Hey Marseilles are good at what they do, but that hardly matters when what they do makes hardly any impact. But hey, if there’s anyone that needs a new selection of telephone hold music, this should do.
‘Hey Marseilles’ by Hey Marseilles is out now on Shanachie Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)