Tempest & Rapture (Owl Bum)
Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., Sept. 16, 2016
Grace Park hit her stride as a songwriter in 2013 with the gorgeous pastoral poetry that defined the Deer's debut album, An Argument for Observation. Third disc Tempest & Rapture now nails down their sonic signature. Enchanting bouquet of dream-folk and earthy indie rock with nocturnal impulses and chamber music complexity, it fuses to the locals' breezy vocalist, who wakes to the midday sun on "Up Into Roses," a banjo-driven night owl romp. The quintet's crafty layering of Park's and bassist Jesse Dalton's pristine pipes into soaring vocal orchestrations repeats throughout the hourlong LP, striking Beach Boys-quality harmonies on "Alchemical Happiness" and guitar-crunched "Bad Translator." When the band backs down on late-sequence standout "Intonation," the former Blue Hit singer's couplets carry the weight: "I searched up for rain/ I prayed I was insane/ But the voice on my shoulder's an angel. To quiet the clatter/ My mind over matter/ I slaughtered an army of brain cells." Both "Tempest" – the title of Shakespeare's last play – and "Rapture" imply finality, but the Deer have succeeded in a new beginning.