For their second full-length, the Morning Benders enlist the help of Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) to help manage the blinking lights with frontman Christopher Chu, turning Big Echo into a meticulously crafted pop gem.
Sure, there are moments of Taylor’s influence, but they’re restrained, allowing Chu to assert his influence (after all, Morning Benders did begin as Chu’s solo project) which is a very wise choice as he possesses a strong sense of melody and a very deep concentration with arrangements.
Big Echo is more than just another fine entry in the overflowing talent pool that is the Northwest Indie Pop scene; it may be the first example of that gene pool heading east to mix their Beach Boys lovin’ harmonies with the lysergic eating ways of the Northeast Neo psychedelic weirdos.
Like Lou Reed said, “the possibilities are endless,” and Big Echo shows a great amount of promise for the band with its already well-crafted lead.
Much of Big Echo‘s success hinges on Chu’s gentle vocals and the band’s delicate performances. But just when things get cozy, Taylor and Chu’s production starts opening up the soundscapes to the point where everything is swallowed up into this huge, sweeping wall of lushness and beauty.
“All Day Daylight” may be the only sound that you’ll be able to reference the Morning Benders to their California roots, with its bouncy rhythms and homesick references to “Summer summers callin’ out my name / Somewhere it can’t see me.” The handclaps serve dual purposes, reminding the band of their original Cali pop visions while warming their hands from the cold Northeast winter from when Big Echo was mixed.
Everything else is layered bliss, hinting at a band using the studio as a creative tool rather than a way to cover up flaws. Every echo (ha!), crescendo, and ambient rattle serves a purpose-building intrigue to get listeners to hit repeat, where they can discover new levels of attraction with each subsequent spin.
How a band this young has created an album mature is enviable, as you know there are others who are still striving to attain this level of perfection while the Morning Benders have managed to hit it with their sophomore offering.
How they recorded it in just eleven days points to the fact that Chu and company have been very busy since their last effort, going over every detail to make sure that they are heard within the album’s vast expansion.
In many ways, Big Echo is a perfect spring record, bubbling with new life and rebirth while hinting at even more beauty for the seasons ahead.