On its first follow-up to 2008's brilliant debut, the uplifting When the Music Starts, Grapevine's 11-piece acoustic collective of Mount Righteous seems a little less content singing oddball, inspirational tunes about childhood aspirations and a little more bent on presenting itself as an unpredictable carnie sideshow.
That's not to say that the act no longer offers a breath of fresh nostalgia—it still does, just less so. Consider this the band's first step toward a more punk rock sensibility. Take, for instance, this lyrical excerpt from the chorus of the disc's rousing opening number, "Shake the Rafters Loose": "I can't wait to rock this room with you, we'll shake these rafters loose, we'll rip this roof in two." Not exactly the dancing and singing and loving one another message that the band put forth as its original credo. Another change in pace: The band's newfound appreciation of minor chords, which, in turn, furthers the darker flavor of this release.
Still, this is Mount Righteous, whose idea of dark remains but a slight off-white shade. As such, this five-track offering manages to maintain the charm of Mount Righteous, even if its songs are presented here in a more urgent tone. It'd be easy to pull the reins on that idea—as in, "Hey, guys, what's the rush?"—but you can't really blame the band for wanting to expand its aesthetic, even if ever so slightly.
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