Greens by Greens
Greens' self-titled debut EP is a poignant observation about the state of being between opposites. The alt-country revivalism is as much electronic and rock-tinged as it is constructed from back porch sing-alongs and gospel flavors. Like the band's home city of Albany, NY, the EP's sound is lodged between big city sidewalks and backyard cookouts, between modernism and traditionalism, between assertiveness about personal growth and pensive notes of nostalgia and regret.
The songs throughout follow a similar structural arc, almost like condensed country post-rock. A slow and sparse introduction and verse will deliver the highest and most detailed lyrical notes; meanwhile, the instrumentation of the backing band slowly creeps in around before building into a cacophonous revival sing-along, often with multiple vocalists complimenting bandleader Alex Brooks’ direct, declarative, one-line choruses. The atonal swell eventually gives way to a long decay of reverberant sounds, often of warped electronics, slide guitar, and keyboards.
Though written in isolation and in a ruminative frame of mind, Brooks's direction during recording was to saturate the recording with voices and instruments. The result is an achievement in organized chaos, a church choir and an orchestra picking up a flea market’s worth of instruments and layering them to create a unique sound experience that sounds not indecisive but rather iridescent and non-distinct, without being unfamiliar. Sonically the album reaches back in time to Americana and folk revival records of the late 60s and early 70s, particularly calling to mind works by the Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Grateful Dead. There’s a touch of influence from neo-Americana from the 00s, like Fleet Foxes. Like labelmates Bear Grass, Bruiser and Bicycle, and Blue Ranger, Greens' arrangements are searching and nostalgic while never being boring or obvious.
Lyrically, the EP is a testament to self-empowerment and growth. The output sounds like the testament of someone who has looked intently and carefully at their past selves and at the circumstances that brought them to where they are today in order to create an unflagging optimism about and enthusiasm about the work it takes to improve oneself. Shadows of past traumas and characters from years gone by often set the scene of a song, while the protagonist spends the duration untangling the impact of these bygones before settling on a chorus that repeats like a positive affirmation, or like a mantra. The final product is a shimmering, glowing record that can feel at once as imposing as a skyscraper and as gently poetic as a warm breeze through tall grass.