Good Old War seems to master the art of adorable folk music with their three-part harmonies and amorous tracks. On their new album they attempt to break away from this reputation, but it’s obvious they can’t escape it.
The self-titled album’s first track is a foretelling of what listeners should expect. “Good” is a very short overture with twangy guitars and swooping harmonies. The Pennsylvania trio then leaps into their indie-pop declaration of love, “Here Are The Problems.” Although the lyrics are exceedingly melodramatic, including lines like “And if you leave now I might die / No I’m not lying,” they manage to turn it into a fun song that deserves at least a subtle head-bop to the beat.
Keith Goodwin (vocals/guitar), Dan Schwartz (guitar/vocals) and Tim Arnold (drums/vocals) continue to bring listeners on a venture of cute folk—but backed with the vocal chops and willingness to instrumentally explore, even if just a little bit. “My Own Sinking Ship” throws in some harmonica, while “Making My Life” seems to up the musical ante with more complex, Appalachian guitar rhythms. They also explore more with percussion, mixing cowbell syncopation, shaker rhythms, and tambourine. “Woody’s Hood Boogie Woogie” has old school rock and roll guitar rhythms while sticking to their acoustic makeup.
Despite its minute-long length, “Old” is the standout track of the album, giving off a Moroccan vibe. After this break from the typical folk structure, it’s somewhat depressing that the band decides to veer back to its traditional sound.
It’s obvious from the whimsical vocals found in songs “That’s Some Dream,” “Get Some,” and “While I’m Away” that Good Old War roots from artists like Simon and Garfunkel. Although the album’s overall arrangements are simple, and in the second half, somewhat dull, the band has managed to create an album of folksy pop music riddled with vocals that melt together like butter.
In A Word: Endearing