On What the Wind Will Never Tell, the new disc from Washington, D.C.‘s Nethers, the band is out to trick you. The simple strummed chords, barely-there percussion, and lilting vocals of opener “Esprit de Nethers”—not to mention that precious title—set us up for an album of fey, folk-touched pop. Music that is pleasant but lacks the presence to have any lasting impact. But, by the time you hit track three, “Green Jean Jamboree”, you’ve caught yourself and dismissed your first reaction. That track, full of crunchy guitars and wailing harmonicas under Nikki West’s full-bodied vocals, shows the band’s infectious combination of pure-pop fun and soulful emotion. “The Night, The Soul” is the best example of Nethers’ darker side, where West’s sweet vocals turn haunting, and the band burns slow and heavy behind her. The album moves seamlessly between lush pop songs and brooding ballads, ending with the simple and brief “Grace’s Pond”, a quick acoustic number that has West singing the final line, “I will be grateful for all I’ve ever known.” And judging by the breadth and weight of emotion we hear throughout the record, this final line—sung as the narrator has fallen into a cold, wintery lake—sounds like a hard-earned lesson; a lesson Nethers brings us to with ghostly beauty on What the Wind Will Never Tell.
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