Westhead is one of my favorite local bands, but I had no idea what to expect from this album when I hit the play button. “Double Dares & Fault Lines,” Westhead’s sophomore album, is nothing short of perfection.
The album opens with half of its title on “Double Dares,” ringing in the album with some playful claps. It creates a light, airy atmosphere for the other songs to live in. I can’t think of a stronger start from the intricate fingerpicking to the horn section to the vocals that mirror the intricate fingerpicking. It’s simply gorgeous.
The band promptly moves on to “Without A Laugh,” a lesson in the art of vocal layering. The stereo vocals give it this insistent feel, like leading man Max DiFrisco needs you to listen closely to what he’s saying. Even the guitar harmonies make me feel like I need to listen deeper. The song segues into “All The Same,” which makes me feel like I’m on a boat trip with my friends. I can’t explain why it makes me feel like this, but it makes me want to jump into a lake. It’s a beautiful song.
“I Ask Myself Again” has some of the best lyrics on the album. The guitar is beautiful and seemingly simple — which makes me like it more. The opening line, “It’s getting harder for the lot of us to live,” is incredibly relatable, especially with the casual delivery of explicit words that shortly follow. The bass complements the song perfectly, softly adding depth to the guitar’s soloing.
If you’re a fan of hauntingly beautiful songs, “Lauralee” is right up your alley. The layers of the music are hard to separate. It feels like a recurring dream with its airy vocals and string section. This song marks a small turning point in the album; it becomes much more melancholy from here on.
“The Postman’s Dream” is a song I could write an essay about. It’s tumultuous and slightly angry with its chorus: “If you don’t know me, if you don’t care / I can’t be the air that brought you there.” The strong emotions ebb and flow with ease, creating a tidal wave of emotions for the chorus. I know I will be listening to this song years from now.
I knew “Too Much” was going to be somewhat melancholic from the title alone. It captures the feeling of growing out of a group of friends while not having the bandwidth to come to terms with it. The driving guitar and the emphatic piano create an ideal background for these emotions.
The album closes with the second half of its title, “Fault Lines.” It ends on a lighter note than the three preceding tracks, a great sister to the opening track. Despite the happier background music, the lyrics are still quite heavy. It’s perfection.
If you like Iron & Wine and need something more dramatic, I highly recommend listening to this album. “Double Dares & Fault Lines” will be my go-to hammocking album for the rest of the semester.