By Jessica Roblin of Indie Band Guru
Tones, the latest full length from The Bergamot, wasn’t an easy album to review. There was a certain disconnect between songs on the album that made it difficult to fully enjoy, appreciate, or write about. Regardless, I can see what the duo was attempting to do here and can definitely appreciate it.
The Bergamot Blends Many Genres
The Bergamot consists of a husband and wife, Nathaniel Paul Hoff and Jillian Speece, who produce a pop-indie vibe with strong, complex lyrics discussing modern relationships and struggles we can all relate to. Their 2016 record Tones is the latest in their musical repertoire.
According to Brooklyn-based Speece and Hoff, “Every song we’ve ever written has led us here. More than 12 years of writing, more than 100 songs and 300 tour dates: our love affair with music knows no bounds.”
The Bergamot members say they draw inspiration from classic groups like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and the more modern Dave Matthews Band. You get Joni Mitchell and Beth Gibbons in Speece’s wide vocal range that she uses to harmonize and move freely in waves. Her strong voice emphasizes the emotional, yet uplifting messages seen in, well, all of their songs, with “Forget About Tomorrow” hitting the nail on the head particularly well.
This talk of living in the moment and their overall folk vibe is a dead giveaway of their Brooklyn roots. Those trying to “make it” in this East Coast town can require a little extra encouragement — this album is included in that number.
Hits Mixed with Misses
There were quite a few moments in their tracks where the superb build-up had me going, but left me unsatisfied when the climax broke to a nowhereland of feels. “Alive” offers not-quite dancy, distorted guitar chords that can’t pass as rock either.
These chords are repeated to such an extent that the track loses traction. There’s no great crescendo or unexpected turn around; it flatlines for the whole three minutes. I really, really wanted more, and, in general, the perfectionist in me wanted to feel a more coherent theme among the songs.
Individually, each track held its own power, whether that was a base rooted in rock or a floaty, riding-the-waves sensation from Speece’s voice complemented by Hoff’s elegant additions. Unlike “Alive,” the track “Miles” repeats the same bits of guitar and a couple of chords, but the guitar is funky and plucky, and Hoff brings out his ethereal touch to build a full sound.
Their philosophy is evident in their lyrics and song-feel. They’ll say it themselves: “Aim big and start small… [We] hone in our songwriting craft and bring uplifting music to the world.”
On their next album, I’d like to see them reel it back and start small by not shoving too many musical styles and elements into one album or one track. Bringing out a singular feeling will better promote The Bergamot’s inspirational intentions and Speece’s outstanding vocals.
Learn more about The Bergamot here.