On Rusty Belle’s latest offering, the music is folky, but only kind of. The instrumentation is often acoustic (though there’s a bell-toned electric guitar in evidence, too) and the vocals are softly delivered. The first track, “Sad Little Boys,” isn’t a typical beginning place. The song is quiet and contemplative, and clocks in at nearly five minutes.
At first, the band seems to have undertaken the task of establishing the feel of a lazy afternoon—the songs lilt along until things take a left turn at “Change My Heart,” a distorted romp that heads for more usual rock constructions. That’s a momentary departure, however. The drifting, easy feel carries the day, propelled by the harmonies of Kate and Matt Lorenz.
It’s hard to pin down just what kind of band Rusty Belle is. Now and then, the trio gets unhinged, shouting and howling amid fuzzy guitars. Those moments are jarring against the prevailing quiet, but they reveal the band’s discomfort with being defined as only a softer-toned group. In most of the songs, the melodies aren’t jagged or unexpected, but are meandering and playful.
“Sink and Swim” is an interesting high point in that it marries the contemplative feel and a more upbeat, focused sense of melody.