The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
Record Label: Gravitation / Dead Oceans
Release Date: June 11th, 2012
I have a lot of stories about how I got into certain bands, but I really don’t have a long anecdote for how I got into Swedish folk band The Tallest Man On Earth. Basically, I was in a local Best Buy store last week, and saw this record at the front of one of the CD aisles, and was really curious about it, because I had heard of this band for so long, but never listened to them. In other words, I bought the band’s new record There’s No Leaving Now without even listening to them. I’m glad I bought this record, because it’s a fantastic record. I can see why people were buzzing about this band and record last year when it was released, because it’s an amazing piece of work, really. The Tallest Man On Earth is really the brainchild of musician Kristian Matsson, and while I’m just getting into this band, I’m already finding myself more intrigued by this record after each listen. I’m intrigued because it’s really nothing I’ve ever heard before; it’s a very strange mix of country and folk. It’s strange, because it doesn’t seem like those two genres would go together, but they mesh together very well. This is one of the best records I’ve heard in awhile, and I really wish I would’ve checked this out much sooner. Matsson is a wonderful singer and lyricist, and in fact, he played most of the music on here himself, with the exception of a few tracks where he brought in some other musicians. This is a great record for indie/folk fans, and I can definitely sense this band getting even bigger than they are in the next couple years.
The record begins with “To Just Grow Away,” and immediately, this song sets the stage of the whole record; it starts off with a very slow acoustic guitar riff, and Matsson’s voice comes in a few seconds later. I love his voice on this entire record, because it has a very “retro-like” quality to it. I don’t know if he recorded it like that on purpose, or that’s how his voice actually sounds, but either way, I love it. Lyrically, this is also a very interesting song, too; in fact, the whole record has very interesting lyrics. While I’m listening to this song, though, I really get a Bon Iver vibe from this band. For those of you who were living under a rock during the beginning of 2012, Bon Iver (who is the brainchild of Wisconsin native Justin Vernon) released his sophomore record Bon Iver, Bon Iver to very positive reviews, and I’ve actually listened to this record before. Of course, this band doesn’t sound completely like Bon Iver, and the main thing that separates them is that The Tallest Man On Earth has a vaguely country vibe to their sound, and it’s really interesting, to be honest. This is nice opening track, because it keeps rather slow, but does show off their sound in a nice way. Second track “Revelation Blues” is a much more folksy track, and it continues the sound that “To Just Grow Away” started, with a faster tempo. This is one of the poppiest tracks on the record, and aside from country and folk, it does go into some indie-pop territory, too, but not too much. One of my favorite tracks is fourth track “1904.” This is what I mean by that indie-pop element, because it’s certainly here on this track. I also love the lyrics on this track, too; Matsson’s lyrics are definitely indie-rock/folk gold, to say the least. This is a song that Matsson could break out into the mainstream with, I’m sure.
As the record goes on, the one problem I have with it is that each song does sound quite similar, except for a few, of course. I mentioned “1904,” and next track “Bright Lanterns” is another standout track. This is one song that showcases Matsson’s country sound, too. The guitars have that “twang” sound to some degree, so while it’s not a very obvious sound, the element is there, to say the least. The title track is another standout track, too, because it features a piano riff that acts as the backbone of the track. This track really shows off Matsson’s voice, too; he reminds me of vocalists like Andy Hull, Kevin Devine, and Justin Vernon. He’s surely got the voice for folk/indie. The rest of the record is fantastic as well, but doesn’t quite do much for me, aside from the last track, “On Every Page.” I mean, they’re great tracks, but that track is a nice closing track. It’s just that this record seems to fall victim to a plague that I’ve noticed with a lot of records; the whole record is very solid, but there are those few songs that stand out more than the rest, and those songs are absolutely great, and make the rest of the songs just fall short in comparison. That’s not to say they’re bad songs, but just are overshadowed by the standout tracks. As for closing track “On Every Page,” it really is a nice closing track; it’s a very somber track, but it does the album justice, in all honesty. Overall, this is a great album, especially if you’re into indie/folk. I’ve noticed that the genres have been making a comeback in the mainstream, so hopefully, this band can get the success that they deserve, too.