A funny thing happened while I was listening to Loch Lomond’s debut, When We Were Mountains. Approximately midway through “Canadian Shield” (which sounds culled from the Hail to the Thief sessions), the subdued track splits open, sending a tear through the song’s center. EKG lines of guitar noodling form interlocking life lines with each other, the song attempts to soar but is beat back down by a punishing drum set. It was at this point that the hinting skies spilled their truth—it started to pour.
This undiscovered gem seems to play the part of rain song. One after the next, broodingly beautiful, dark songs emerge with the epic certainty of Radiohead’s best work (“Exit Music”). A creative, comfortably depressing feel drapes When We Were Mountains‘ finest moments—the band are shockingly adept at using multiple instruments and approaches to meet a consistent goal; masters of their craft, Loch Lomond manages to create an album that can worm its way into your psyche and live forever, to play back in your mind at the most heartbreaking or tender moments of your life. “I won’t forget the way / The light bounced off your face,” Ritchie Young bleeds on “Del Fuego.” The vocals are so restrained the music all but masks them, creating not so much a declaration of infatuation as a method of self-assurance—there is no one on the other end to hear those words. It’s one of When We Were Mountains‘ many brilliant discoveries—landscapes clouded from the sun at all times, covered in rain. Of course, it’s only fitting that the band hails from the Northwest, no one’s trying to change the stereotype of bands from the rainingest region of the country. Loch Lomond shares a lot of qualities in common with other artists from the region—let’s go through the checklist (Elliott Smith, The Decemberists, Norfolk & Western)—without actually sounding like any of those artists.
A murky, yet undoubtedly effective debut, When We Were Mountains shows surprising skill at song-craft and instrumentation. Loch Lomond may have been overlooked at first, but discovering them is essential. The only test Lomond still have to take is the one of time. Currently, they’re as refreshing, new, and original as you’d need. When We Were Mountains proves to be the apocalypse-impending album everyone needs to sulk through the dregs of fall.