Wind & Words
by Chad Jewett
It serves as an emblem for the entire record that even a song like “Walking Distance”, the impressionistic opening snippet of Deer Leap’s newest EP, Wind & Words, is oddly catchy, even when what its brief 50 seconds are actually going for is something more like “elliptical” or “hazy.” “Nothing is reeeaaaal” goes one elastic line of melody. “The space between!” bursts another. Deer Leap have long set up camp at the most atmospheric edges of contemporary emo, but the New Hampshire quartet’s last two releases – 2016’s Impermanence, and now Wind & Words – are more direct, more set on making their gifts for ambiance and mood work in service of songs.
Take “Trona” and “This Is Not A Dance”, slow-and-steady ballads that are full of both careful texture and a sense of direction that lend the band’s studious layering more emotional weight. Deer Leap’s technical gifts work best when they’re working toward payoff. Best of all are the stretches where Wind & Words moves quicker, as on the EP’s title track and its penultimate (and finest) song, “Relativity”. They’re moments that recall bands like Armor For Sleep or Moneen – groups that were early adopters of the kind of bright alloy of post-rock and post-hardcore at which Deer Leap is so adept. The production here – helmed by Chris Teti of The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – is at once clear and lush, a well-tailored match for modern emo’s most elegant stylists.