Other Lives don't write songs so much as soundtracks. That's not to disparage frontman Jesse Tabish's breathy, languid croon. It's more to note the epic sweep and orchestral mien of their widescreen compositions. Their soundfield suggests a dry river bed extending to the horizon line, ringed by mountains with twilight projecting violet and umber across the puffy clouds that roll like credits overhead (yes, someone get the band a Criterion Collection edition already). In the past 18 months, they've opened for Bon Iver and Radiohead, which should tell you something. They recall the moody, muted majesty of the latter, and the former's dreamy, pastoral drift. The members are skilled multi-instrumentalists, allowing them to incorporate strings and horns in subtle cinematic shadings to give the music high-def crackle. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, quintet released an album as the instrumental outfit Kunek in 2006 before changing their name to Other Lives and making their eponymous debut in 2009. Last year brought the more exquisitely crafted Tamer Animals. The tempos have slowed and the tone suggests a microphone placed far away from Tabish, as the music dwarfs his voice with the scope of nature's quiet grandeur. The result's a striking recording, though Tabish's vocals do get lost in the pretty, stately arrangements.
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