The nine tracks on Kings of the Brushwood Thicket’s debut album, The Lies You Leave Behind, more or less follow the laid-back style of “He Was a Man”, the release’s first single. They are all stripped down to an almost bare minimum without sacrificing the richness of the final sound. The album, released earlier this month by the Jamaica, Queens (New York City) band, is a collection of acoustic guitar-driven tracks that range from slow to mid-tempo with little to no extra flourishes or instruments.
The songs are emotion-laden in different ways. The melancholic vocals in the slow “Losing Her Again” make it quite a heavy ending to the album. One of the layers in both “Sweep Away” and “Time Moves On” is a distant, sometimes almost stuffy drum beat that sounds like a heartbeat, making the former’s call to detachment and the latter’s look into the past all the more poignant.
Although it doesn’t make them stand out, little details add a little je ne sais quoi to some of the tracks. The opening notes that seem to be plucked on a keyboard in “Three More Days” give it an almost magical feel. It is further enhanced by the soothing vocals that seem to have been manipulated to come from somewhere behind the listener. This makes a perfect, moody, and melancholic setting for lyrics asking a former lover for “just three more days”.
The soft keyboard background in the mid-tempo “An Open Letter to GOD” make this letter of apology to God for being distracted by “useless media filling our minds” meek and humble. The almost cheerful melody balances out the dark lyrics that claim that God shouldn’t “turn around to save us” because it would be a “waste of [His] time”. While I can understand the feeling of guilt due to our common “distract[ion] by our devices” and not paying attention to what matters in life, it’s kind of a despairing outlook on life.
Two of the tunes stand out because of small additions that make a big difference between them and the other seven tracks on the album. The title track features a keyboard line that gives it an almost eerie feel. Furthermore, halfway through the song, an electric guitar starts plucking away, its sound completely different from the rest of the album. Similarly, while “One Moment in Life” starts with only an acoustic guitar, thin layers are added throughout in the form a gentle tinkling bell, soft drums, and trippy backwards/reverse guitar effects, each aspect gently adding to the track and making its final moments quite surprising when compared to the rest of the album’s tracks.
The Lies You Leave Behind would make for a great companion on a rainy Sunday afternoon, hot chocolate in hand, pondering life’s more serious questions. Selected tracks are available for streaming on Bandcamp, and more information about the band is available on their website.