[26 February 2012]
Aussie brothers Andrew and Sean Bower form the core of the Valery Trails, an understated pop-rock outfit that specializes in low-key, wistful tunes. Opening track “On the Perfume River” hits the sweet spot, with Sean’s gently propulsive bassline nicely underscoring Andrew’s guitar arpeggios and mournful vocals in a song that establishes a tone simultaneously backward-looking and forward-moving. At their best, the band mines this vein effectively, with songs like “Straight Line” and “Ghosts and Gravity” earning their emotional heft both from Andrew’s crooning and the band’s atmospheric instrumental work. Not every song is a winner—“Words Fail” and “As I Live and Breathe” both suffer from formless melodies and uninspired arrangements—but there are more hits than misses. If you’re looking to make your road movie about wide-open spaces and foolish choices coming back to haunt you, this just might be your soundtrack.