“Lines We Trace” by Hey Marseilles

If you are planning to take a road trip this spring break and are looking for a sound track to inspire your adventure, look no further than Hey Marseilles’ Lines We Trace, available March fifth. The Seattle-based band has created a truly modern blend of sounds; a refreshing combination of folk, indie pop, and orchestral music. They set the bar high for themselves by including a wider range of instruments than is usually found in today’s bands, using accordion, harp, trumpet, clarinet, string instruments, and more. The result is beautiful and completely original. Hey Marseilles’ sound is vibrant, haunting, and earnest all at once.

With six band members, Hey Marseilles is able to bring multiple dimensions of talent to the album. The members are Jacob Anderson (viola), Sam Anderson (cello), Matt Bishop (vocals and guitar), Philip Kobernik (keys and ‘squeeze’), Colin Richey (drums), and Nick Ward (guitar). The band formed in 2006 when Bishop and Ward met at University of Washington. Two years later, they independently released their first album, To Travels and Trunks, which was received by reviewers with great enthusiasm and even ranked one of the best Northwest albums of the year. Since then, they have played on NPR, been the opening act at the Bumbershoot Music Longue, re-released their first album, and even created a partnership with Onto Entertainment.

“Bight Stars Burning” is the first single and the fifth track on the album. The song opens with light piano chords as Bishop’s voice enters, “Don’t rely on things you read/On highways signs or magazines/Mine’s the only word you need/To understand the love can mean.” A steady, marching beat drives the song forward into sweeping strings. The song is neither happy nor sad, but a somewhere-in-between love song. This in-betweeness a common theme on the album. The lyrics frequently refer to long roads, the everyday details of travel, and returning home. Mixed in with these ideas is a prevailing referral to love. In “Bright Stars Burning,” Bishop sings in the chorus, “When I go so far you leave me in the dark/I just want to be your light.” The love Hey Marseilles write of may be melancholy, but it is consistently hopeful.

Hey Marseilles occasionally seem to tease the listener by writing some songs that include hints of pop music along a Death Cab For Cutie vein, but never go so far as to fully commit to what could be considered a mainstream sound. For example, songs like “Dead of Night” and “Hold Your Head” are upbeat and cheerful however contain elements of jazz and folk. It is in tracks such as these that Hey Marseilles proves their versatility.

The album includes purely instrumental songs as well. “Madrona” is an artfully constructed piano and strings piece that sounds like it could be from an earlier time. Despite the lack of lyrics, “Madrona” guarantees an emotional response from its listener. This is definitely not the kind of song that will be a big hit on the radio, but is certainly one that will stay with anyone who hears it. “Demian” is another solely instrumental piece worth a listen.

Bands like Hey Marseilles could really be the future of music. At last, here is music that is accessible to listeners with a wide range of preferences; jazz, folk, rock, alternative, classical, and probably more. This blend of styles could so easily fall flat, yet Hey Marseilles knows exactly what they are doing. Lines We Trace is an inspiring album and a must-have for any music fan.

By Mary Kennedy

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