Los Angeles – Trails And Ways have been making beautiful music together for several years now, but Pathology for Barsuk Records marks the foursome’s long awaited debut LP. Hannah Van Loon (lead guitar, synths), Ian Quirk (drums), Keith Browner Brown (rhythm guitar, synths), and Emma Oppen (bass) met during their time at UC Berkley. The thing unique about Trails And Ways is not that each member supply their own vocals for individual songs but how the sounds they create are inspired from the places they’ve resided over the years living together. They lived as far as Ceara in Brazil and Galicia in Spain before heading back to Oakland to hone their craft. In fact, Keith has a proclivity for singing in Portuguese, while Emma in Spanish. Trails And Ways are a different kind of indie-pop band since their political side always sounds exceptionally jubilant and not disaffected. Their beats, hooks, harmonies, and guitar lines are lush, rich, and sprightly. The structures for each song are radiant and downright vibrant. Frankly, the band’s originality is quite evident as Pathology is a 38-minute endeavor of optimism encompassing a complete sound that falls in not one specific category. The inspirations of echoes are imposing as the songs all come together to form a terrifically unified album unlike anything this year has yet to offer.
While the album was recorded and produced in drummer Ian Quirk’s bedroom, this is far from some lo-fi bedroom-pop project. It’s clearly apparent as Pathology launches with “Skeletons,” a polished, bouncy, and groovy jam. It’s bursting with icy cool beats and dynamic guitar lines that contribute to this dance-worthy effort. “Say You Will” is a bit sleeker, but slightly toned down from our previous opening track. Oppen’s warm vocals are on display along with a dance-infused bass line and jaunty melodies. “Jacaranda” is a shimmery pop exertion with ravishing synths and a summer warmth layered on top of it. At being the briefest song on Pathology, “Jacaranda” is a laid-back tropical landscape from beginning to end. While “Nunca” which means “never” in Spanish was first released off their debut EP in 2013, the track feels right at home with the theme of Pathology. The Brazilian-influenced tune takes the listener to a soothing place, a state of pure relaxation. Brown’s breath-y vocal tone adds great depth to the spry arrangements. “Downright” hints at an R&B vibrancy with its danceable beats and passionate vocals. With each subsequent track, Trails And Ways convinces the listener that they have so much to offer with innately beguiling material that it is way too good to be overlooked. Trust me, Pathology is an album not to be disregarded.
“Defined” is another jovially fun song that has pleasing tones and a smooth bass line. “Dream About Me” is another Brazilian style jam that makes you think you’re on the beaches of Brazil. However, soon after its start, you’ll be swept away by the sheer beauty and melancholic vibe. Closing track, “Vines” is something to marvel at. This hazy, tranquil composition is staggeringly warm and gorgeously heartfelt. While it may be Trails And Ways’ most serene song off the record, it is by far one of their finest tracks they’ve ever composed. Ending on such a promising note as well as something a little more earnest, Pathology rarely, if ever, has a false move from start to finish. Trails and Ways add considerable complexity and superb value to their debut record with their worldly sounds, political assertions, and profound creativity. Pathology is a summertime soundtrack for anyone and the ideal vacation record no matter where you go—stateside or abroad.
Check out Trails And Ways Facebook for their current tour in support of Pathology.
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