When its previous album Seeds (2011) was being recorded, Hey Rosetta! was coming out of a phase where the band had been touring extensively for the first time, and—quite fittingly—planting musical seeds in the towns and cities it performed in. The album, with its oscillation between boisterous anthems and measured melodies, reflected the mindset of a band that was giving audiences exhilarating live shows at night in between the hours of quiet introspection they had on the road. To a certain extent, Second Sight replicates that balance, but the frenetic feeling that characterized the band’s more spirited songs in the past has been replaced by light tones and a controlled electricity that—despite flashes of generic repetition—sparks several quality songs.
Poppy, radio-friendly single “Kintsukuroi” suggested a new musical focus when it was released in August, and with Second Sight, the band shows us that this was indeed the case. Most of seven tracks leading up to “Kintsukuroi” feature a kind of airy instrumentation, dynamic percussion, and middling pace that grow somewhat tiresome and—unfortunately for such a unique, orchestral seven-piece group like Hey Rosetta!—sound reminiscent of other indie acts such as Local Natives (“Promise”) or Vampire Weekend (“Neon Beyond”).
As is usually the case with Hey Rosetta! albums, Second Sight’s best songs are the ones that sound like only they could have written them. “Gold Teeth” combines elements of Seeds’ standouts “Seventeen” and “Young Glass” with the band’s evolved sound to produce a superb song that is bursting with hope and excitement underneath its poised surface. “What Arrows” and “Cathedral Bells” are two of the album’s quietest and strongest tracks, initially carried by Tim Baker’s gentle vocals as soothing music slowly builds up around him.
Even though the sum of its parts isn’t as great as it could be, Second Sight is loaded with good music and good vibes, and at the end of the day, certainly feels like a worthwhile experiment.