The Hudson Branch writes odes to regret-laden love. Their singer’s restrained; sometimes cracking tenor is very good at reflecting the utter sadness that permeates their music. Like Ben Gibbard and Conor Oberst before them, The Hudson Branch uses a combination of a catchy melody and a well written line or two to their absolute advantage: “between the windshield and the wiper, where I’ll be pinned”. Ryan Adams’s ghost can be heard in the songwriting, with references to rivers, drowning, and wind all mentioned within two lyrics.
The EP is down tempo and pretty – there are echoes of Coldplay, and on Did They Really Care, a Radioheadish squealing, delay swirling intro. The low end plays it safe, staying in the box (for the most part) and following the melody almost note for note. They are a radio ready soft rock band born from the downtempo, delayed- guitar heavy trio of U2, Coldplay and (early) Radiohead. They also have a nice, tasteful affinity for horns, which makes me believe they can come up with more interesting arrangements than shown here. It seems to me they want to be a truly sorrowful rock band (see Stars) – but lack the power in the guitars and the slamming drums to do it.
I say after this EP, turn the amps up to 11, dust off those distortion pedals and put the piano in the corner – put some real oomph behind those rain cloud lyrics and we’ll be in for something special. None the less, it is still a wonderful EP. Listen to it during a short rainfall in Autumn, when the weather just starts creeping below 50.