Like so many ragtag, fresh-faced (or willfully bearded) insurgents tarred with the freak-folk or New Weird America (the latter a genre tag so broad it's almost useless) brushes, Philadelphia's Espers draw melodic sustenance from a mind-boggling number of obscure and traditional organs and stringed things. A decided sense of purpose sets them apart from Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Animal Collective, and others. To Espers, rustles, slithers, and pearly murk are entirely secondary to their winsome, Renaissance-Faire-at-twilight fanciful fixings themselves, less window-dressing cloud-banks to be waded through on the way to discerning a rhythm or melody than enriching shading. Meg Baird's delicate vocals further personalize these vineyard vistas of sawing cellos and swaying acoustics. Among the crushing, frustrated crescendos of "Widow's Weed," she affects a soothing, midrange moss-murmur, but within those noisy peaks, you can hear her howl as though there's a full moon rising.
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