Bowerbirds are getting some mileage out of being John Darnielle’s “favorite new band in forever”, but however they get the attention, they deserve it. The group makes superficially placid music that contains conflict, hurt, and persistent faith. Attacking both industrial assaults and materialistic society, Bowerbirds does less to fire missiles than to assert a spiritual peace. They know it’s not easy, which is why they “stow our words in the cellar so we never lose hope”. Fortunately, the trio brings the tunes out of the basement, pacing between freak-folk’s simplicity and Akron/Family’s emotional expansiveness. Bowerbirds celebrate coming into a world they struggle against and at the same time “give thanks for being one hundred and still feeling amazed”. While a pervasive discontent drives the need for this art (and the ability to receive), a grace stays at work to keep the heart a light color, leaving understanding even for those at the root of destruction. Hymns for a Dark Horse, for all its resistance, is ultimately an invitation, and one that shouldn’t be ignored.
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