MP3: Annie With Your Green Eyes Darkening by The Whiles
It seems ages ago that The Whiles released their first album, Colors of the Year, and captured the attention of Columbus in-the-knows. In those three years, the band landed a song (“Song for Jerry”) on the soundtrack for Murderball and lost singer Zack Prout. The latter no doubt had a greater impact on the band: Prout’s breathtaking vocals were the perfect vehicle for songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist Joe Peppercorn’s melancholy-tinted pop and the centerpiece of the Whiles’ three-part harmonies. With the loss of their singer, Joe, who sang lead on a couple songs on Colors, was forced to become the band’s vocal point while writing the songs that would become a new album.
The resultant record, Sleepers Wake, released on local imprint Anyway, is in many ways the perfect successor to the band’s debut. Peppercorn remains a gifted songwriter, and the album’s dozen songs retain the delicate balance of fragile beauty, saddened lyrical bent and pop hooks of those of its precursor. But the band also seems to have adjusted to Prout’s loss, adding country tinges that meld better with Joe’s tranquil singing style than the sparkling tones of Colors would have. Only older songs like “Light in August” and “Spanish Steps” seem to yearn for Prout’s soaring voice. Tracks like “Songs We Used to Know” and “Sink Beneath Your Smile” show a greater intricacy in terms of arrangements, but even more straightforward cuts like “Sister Mary” prove affecting. Maybe this is not the same Whiles of three years ago, but this one has made another stunning album.