Thank goodness for bands like Invisible. Every so often, when you feel like you’ve heard all there is to hear in a certain genre, a new musical artist comes along that shows there’s still plenty of room to be explored in said genre. Invisible, with their unique little brand of indie folk/rock that blends elements of post-rock and electronica with plenty of interesting sonic experimentation, is one of those artists.
In fact, Invisible doesn’t so much as tweak an existing genre as invent a new one; on this, the 6-track self-titled EP, the band tries out several different styles and blends them together into a nice, melodic sound that’s difficult to classify. Hailing from Portland, OR, the trio (now a quartet) have a definite autumnal sound, but unlike some Northwestern bands, it’s not gloomy and dreary in the slightest, but rather pretty, gentle, and sometimes playful.
The short-but-sweet instrumental, “Calia,” opens the EP with strings, plucked acoustic guitar, and cascading electronic noises that are quickly interrupted by blasts of guitar. Now, reading that, most readers will probably dismiss the band as just another Mogwai clone, but “Calia” is something quite different. It’s something much more realized, structured, pleasant, and uplifting, and the unique instrumentation and sweet melody sets it apart from the rest. The contrast between the pleasant first few seconds and the bombastic guitar squalls that follow may be a technique that’s been done to death, but Invisible somehow manages to keep it fresh.
The band uses vocals on the lovely, laidback “Shall the Content,” which would be just another pretty indie folk song, but the band keeps it interesting by backing it up with swaths of reverbed guitar and vibraphones that stretch on into forever. “Verdict Swings” is a combination of the first two tracks, beginning and ending with celebratory violin and guitar, with vocals wedged inbetween. “A Yellow Jacket,” another shining instrumental track, brings to mind the sounds of RF, with its squelching digital beats, electronic squiggles, and organic instrumentation.
“Sweet Love” sticks out from the rest of the tracks in that it’s a cover of a song by The Fonda 500, and it’s also the most structured song on the EP. While some may find it to be a bit too sugary, those willing to put up with the saccharine lyrics will be able to bask in its beautiful warmth and 60s psychedelic folk sound.
The EP is at its prettiest and most relaxed on the closer, “Faults By Which,” which, were it not for the vocals, could be mistaken for something by the Swedish band Tape, with its pairing of soft guitar and the sounds of water running, chalk writing on a chalk board, birds tweeting, and paper rustling. It’s also probably the EP’s weakest cut, but it’s still a pleasant and appropriate way to end it (although it’s not the real end — listeners willing to stick around for a few more seconds will be treated to a slow instrumental hidden track.)
If there’s anything negative to be said about the band, it’s that the vocals aren’t anything particularly remarkable. Quiet and indistinct, they could be traded in for any other generic singer/songwriter or indie rocker. Also, some may find themselves a bit bored by the release, and hopefully the band will try and incorporate the vitality of songs like “Calia” into their softer, more skeletal folk songs.
Still, these are minor criticisms, and I’m just trying to find faults in what I find to be an overall solid release. Clocking in at half an hour, it’s the perfect length and a good introduction for a promising new band. While nothing here is flat out amazing, there’s no denying that Invisible creates some good, catchy music. Inventive, positive, and above all else, really pretty, it’s music that I definitely hope to hear more of in the near future. Thank goodness for bands like Invisible.
Written by Richie DeMaria.