The chamber pop of Piñataland’s “Hymns for the Dreadful Night
” caught my attention immediately, as it is immaculately captured.
“Island of Godless Men” is the best example of this. It’s a great song made better by the details of the engineering. Opening the piece is remarkably clear sound of the ocean, which gives way to a not-tinny-at-all accordion. Piano, drums, bass, acoustic guitar and violin mark the end of the intro, and each sounds full and real. The violin doesn’t shriek, the bass doesn’t buzz, the acoustic guitar doesn’t rattle, and the drums don’t sound brittle. The male lead vocals and female backups are round and sound as if the singer is sitting in the room with me.
It helps that the instrumentalists are skilled, and that the song is beautifully composed. It has a propulsive energy even before the foot-stomping fiddle section closes out the piece. You’ll be singing along, and having a blast doing it.
The rest of the tunes are equally as well thought-out, which is kind of amazing for a band that started out as a polka outfit. It is impossible to know that without reading their bio, I swear.
But once I read it, “The Death of Silas Deane” makes a lot more sense. Also, it explains why the bassist is awesome, and why accordion plays a role in so many of these songs. But I’m dead serious that these don’t sound like polka songs. Do not be afraid. These are well-crafted, absolutely gorgeous, memorable chamber-pop songs.
The nearly 40 minutes of wonderful tunes are best digested as a whole. It’s not a mood piece in the way that ambient works are, but the whole thing hangs together excellently. If you’re a fan of Americana, accordions, fiddle, or just plain beautiful things that aren’t wispy and sentimental all the time (!), “Hymns for the Dreadful Night” should be on your shortlist. —Stephen Carradini