Somewhere in the evolution of popular music culture, the term “mainstream” became a dirty word. In a realm ruled by rebels and visionaries, a sound with obvious mass appeal is seen as sacrilege.
But despite the terrible music that can come from trying to reach large numbers of people, there are artists who genuinely are good at making approachable music.
Enter Carrboro’s Graveyard Fields. The band’s debut EP contains nothing objectionable. Mixing polite, tidy chamber pop with singer-songwriter passion, they have five songs that would easily fit on your Top 40 dial.
MUSIC ReviewGraveyard Fields
Dive verdict: 3 of 5 stars
But there’s nothing whitewashed or cheap about the Fields. They’ve assembled a line-up of trademark “make-it-big-as-an-indie-band” tricks, and they play them all with impassioned precision. “Oh oh” chants fall on top of grand, orchestral climaxes and Andrea Connolly’s piercingly sweet croon.
None of this is new. Judge “Saturn’s Moons” by its title, and you’d think it would be just another space-themed pop tune in the vein of Train’s “Drops of Jupiter.” That’s not far off.
The austere piano is there. The idea of space as a metaphor for distance is there, too. And of course there’s a big, swelling chorus. But this band carries it off well. The melody is hypnotic, and the addition of dreamy synths helps. Connolly’s silky pipes carry the weighty metaphor with grace.
But all the gimmicks don’t really belong to this band. The boisterous ramshackle pop of “Life Gets Messy” is heavily indebted to Arcade Fire, and the slinky, slow-burner “I Know Where You Go” is the kind of bluesy jam that’s long been used to show the tough side of pop songstresses.
Graveyard Fields make these hallmarks their own. They heap a large amount of talent behind highly digestible elements. And while the band won’t win any points for originality or risk-taking, they’re still highly enjoyable.
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