The Head and the Heart, “Signs of Light” (Warner Bros. Records)
The Head and the Heart reinforce their sunny pop tendencies on “Signs of Light,” all but leaving their Seattle folk roots behind, in sounds if not themes.
The band’s third album retains the ace harmonies and has a bunch of good songs, but too many coats of glossy production make them sound, for the first time, like too many other bands. Nothing that can’t be remedied with a little sandpaper and turpentine.
The covers of their albums reflect their journey. From quirky (the debut’s man in a sheep mask, smoking) to comfortably assured (“Let’s Be Still” shows two guys lying on the grass, looking at the sky) to now apparently bemused (lounging by the pool, fully dressed).
Lead single “All We Ever Knew” has that la-la-la refrain used so often these days that you’d be a millionaire if you could copyright it, but “City of Angels” easily captures that bright Southern Cali vibe which still attracts so many people hoping to realize their dreams.
“False Alarm” sounds like ELO’s Jeff Lynne has grabbed the microphone while “Library Magic” includes autobiographical elements, written as the band took a break a while back for outside projects, musical and otherwise.
The title track closes the album, a Josiah Johnson piano ballad in John Grant mode that gains momentum and instruments at midpoint.
With “Signs of Light,” The Head and the Heart have reached their proverbial fork in the road. If they retrace their steps a bit and recalibrate, trusting their talent should show them the more original path.