Under Review

The Album Leaf

Into the Blue Again (Sub Pop)

Review By BRock Thiessen


On first listen, many will likely think The Album Leaf’s new LP plays like a repeat of his last album, In a Safe Place, and they would mostly be right. But on closer inspection, a few elements do emerge on Into the Blue Again that set it apart from its predecessor.
This time around, the man behind The Album Leaf, Jimmy LaValle, takes a fairly conservative stance, where he prefers to perfect past formulas rather than push any envelopes. LaValle continues to root his compositions in a more traditional verse-chorus-verse structure as he relies heavily on his standard blend of ambient drones, strings and old Rhodes pianos. He also includes the usual guest-stars like The Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins, who lends his vocals on “Wherever I Go,” and members of Sigur Rós, who unfortunately remain silent and only do some engineering work.
Where things vaguely differ are in LaValle’s choice to take a slightly more electropop direction similar to Morr Music artists like Ms. John Soda or Lali Puna. This isn’t to say Into the Blue Again will make you dance, but it does tone down the melancholy a bit. The most drastic change, however, is the addition of more songs with LaValle braving the vocal realm. Unfortunately, his hesitant singing and overly simple lyrics usually take more away from the songs than they add.
Overall, Into the Blue Again isn’t bad, but a bit more variety and change would have done a world of good on this Album Leaf record.