The baroque pop of Earlimart has been a staple of the West Coast independent scene for almost a decade now. Despite having only occasionally rubbed elbows with mass success, they continue to sincerely crank out that dreary, downbeat, sometimes lo-fi, sometimes overly large Pixies sound that has made them such worthy underdogs. The emotive and elegant ruminations of both Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray provide beautiful canvases, and as usual, sprawling piano pieces set to disaffected vocals at poppy tempos make up much of the disc, while variety shows its face in key spots with softly strummed guitars, beautiful orchestral movements and accordion cameos. Unfortunately, there is nothing here that they haven’t done before with more attractive results. Espinoza, try as he might, is never able to shake a sense of humdrum apathy, and if Hymn and Her unfolds with ease, it does so without much purpose. While the gentle demeanors and graceful steps of songs like “Song For,” “Before It Gets Better” and “God Loves You the Best” serve as reminders of why it’s such a pleasure to listen to Earlimart, the band’s familiar method makes for a somewhat sleepy affair. Earlimart stands on sinking sand throughout the entire album without ever reaching for a tree branch to hold on to. Hymn and Her, though far from a total failure, is proof that a talented group such as Earlimart should quickly learn how to better navigate this forest, lest they sink into the soil.
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