You would have to be living in a cave to not automatically assume that Goodmorning Valentine are indie with a capital “I.” The clever name, the gorgeous, fabric-inspired packaging of their latest album, Steady Your Hands, and all of those glowing flutes, mallets, and strings which drift in and out of their songs make it too easy for this record to be pegged as a Midwestern entrance into the Stuart Murdoch school of music. And yet, these Ohioans (it is Ohioans, is it not?) should not be dismissed for their articulate and varied sounds. With tracks such as “City Lights” – which sounds as though Goodmorning Valentine has been flipping between their Whiskeytown and their Belle & Sebastian – Steady Your Hands is a pleasant new indie release.
Of course, if my description hasn’t made it obvious, Goodmorning Valentine aren’t exactly breaking any boundaries … but that doesn’t mean their CD isn’t enjoyable. Steady Your Hands is a rainy Sunday morning record: even the more uptempo songs drift lazily out of the speakers and make the listener want to cup their hands and look out a wide open window. Track number four, “So Long…”, is especially inducive to a lazy, hazy mood where everything can be put off for another day, while “Tiger and the Leper” could make even the most upbeat person want to pull their blue-green duvet back over their head and just listen to the rhythm of Joey Beltram’s melodic voice, thinking silent covered thoughts.
For the most part, Steady Your Hands feels like a finished, eclectic painting. All of the songs compliment one another to form a pleasing whole; the only dash of unsettling paint is “Rock and Roll Boys and Girls.” That song’s instrumentation falls directly into Goodmorning Valentine’s delicious ebb and flow, yet with their cynicism and paranoia, the lyrics are dissimilar to everything else on the album: “rock and roll boys and girls/are sharpening their teeth with every smile.” It’s the sparsest track on the album, yet because it strays into such a little-explored ominous grey area, it also becomes the most memorable.
In fact, “Rock and Roll Boys and Girls” leads this reviewer to wonder what is lurking beneath the lovelorn exterior of Goodmorning Valentine, and that sense of mystery and depth is what really sets them apart. Sure, there is that outward indie with an “I,” there are the well-crafted lyrics – but it is the thoughtfulness of Steady Your Hands which will bring a casual listener back time and time again.
Steady Your Hands is not available on Amazon.com. You can buy it online direct from Collectible Escalators Records.
Reviewed by Megan Giddings of The Modern Pea Pod.