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Them Coulee Boys – Dancing In The Dim Light – Album Review

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With so many bands flooding the folk-rock genre, the barebones acoustics often can leave many bands sounding too similar to one another or being too generic, but the best bands know how to stand out. Wisconsin’s Them Coulee Boys stay at the head of the pack on their latest LP Dancing In The Dim Light, out on June 28. Mixing parts Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, and a country soul, the effort proves a strong and accessible album for those who may be growing tired of the typical new folk band.

The record opens on the bright and spry “10 ft Tall” that rushes undeniably through its reminiscing verses. The powerful harmonies make the choruses more catchy and beautiful simultaneously and give them an undeniable pop hook, with a hint of Mumford and Sons in their delivery. “Sunset Sermons” slows things down for a darker and more introspective track, especially lyrically. The ambient instrumental section in the middle of the song is delightfully beautiful when it begins and forces a drive into the song that gives it an energetic ending.

There’s a distinctly Kinks feeling to the sound and riff of “16th St.” giving a colourful wink to its lyrics of longing. The song jumps into a fast race to the finish in its final third that feels a little disjointed with the rest of the song despite its great energy. “The Mask” emulates the feel of the wild west, with an epic galloping rhythm almost like a more country-heavy “Knights Of Cydonia” complete with harmonies and distorted guitars. This feeling bookends the song’s harmony-laden middle section, more folky and ambient than its surroundings.

Lost On You” strips things back for another introspective slow burner. The song’s quiet beauty may be slow for some, but a relaxing listen for those who give it the chance. There’s a pleasing slow rock to mandolin strings of “Take Her Easy” that blends the band’s rustic acoustic sound into an absolutely stellar pop song. The fluttering violins provide a satisfying hum over choruses and in the euphoric final chorus they turn into a flurry of beautiful arpeggios that make it all the more brilliant.

Standing In My Shadow” adds a Spanish tinge to its dark folk-rock. The lyrics speak of the devil in the narrator’s shadow who he sees not as a demon but almost a friend, this chaos is mirrored in the song’s intense instrumental bridge as well. Deep sadness runs through “Leave This Man” which tells the story of a broken man with such utter emotion it would be a surprise if there isn’t an autobiographical aspect to it.

The piano and vocals that open “Want _ Need” play to the sound of Fun. before the band’s attitude and sound affect the tone and sway of the song and make it their own. Halfway through the track jumps into a frenzy of strings and tambourine, and it becomes a Celtic-fueled shred, before returning to the slower sound with more life. Album closer “I Won’t Be Defined” ends things with a strong helping of harmonies and a feeling of self-growth. The closing shuffle brings spirits even higher to leave listeners smiling as it closes.

Pre-orders for Dancing In The Dim Light are available now.

The Scene