Houndmouth - Little Neon Lights
It’s that archetypal difficult second album time for Houndmouth. Their first, 2013’s From The Hills Below The City, was a rollicking romp through stories from the heart of the USA but the Illinois quartet didn’t do their chances in the UK much good by cancelling their only headline tour and never being seen again on these isles. In the intervening eighteen months the band have been touring hard across their homeland, somehow finding time to record Little Neon Lights. Comparisons to The Band are obvious, but accurate, and are only strengthened by this subtly crafted follow up.
If you skim over ‘By God’ - which sails pretty darn close to their own ‘Come On Illinios’ - Little Neon Lights is part continuation of their debut, the story and character driven songs are present and correct (oil family greed on ‘Black Gold’; jail bound regret of ‘15 Years’), but also part evolution. Whether the foursome are playing with pacing and rhythm on ‘Say It’ or paring themselves back for the acoustic ‘For No One’, album two is somehow different while sounding very much the same. Less really can be more. Slower to to grip than From The Hills…, they've settled on a grounded and wider ranging style and hidden below is a significant dollop of ambition. Though that comparison to those grizzled folk rockers won't go away, Houndmouth are very definitely their own band.