Houndmouth’s fourth studio effort is a very welcome return to form from the folk inspired indie rock band. Matt Myers and the rest of the gang are back with deep-cutting songs that carry all the emotional weight of their indie roots with easy-going guitar riffs and instrumentals.
After a lackluster and poorly received third album, which was paired with the departure of former band member Katie Toupin, “Good For You” is a reassurance that Myers and the rest of the band still got it.
While their third record, “Golden Age”, came across as an identity crisis lacking in confidence and substance, “Good For You” presents itself in a completely opposite manner. The record feels like the band is back in a comfortable zone without being complacent. Reminiscent of their first two records, “Good For You” is in a sense more laid back while retaining all its charm and displaying growth and maturity.
The records is instrumentally less involved than previous records. Electric guitars and their blues rock inspired sound take a backseat as most of the record is built on rhythms and riffs from acoustic guitars. Turning towards more folk inspired sounds, Myers’s voice is the real main instrument of most of the album. Overall, the tone of the album is melancholic and nostalgic without necessarily being slow or somber. Close to a feel-good soundscape, songs like the title track “Good For You” and “McKenzie” display a more mature approach to lyricism and thematic exploration.
Myers seems to have left behind more colorful and questionable lyrics present in other records-and plaguing their last record- for more serious and clever lines in “Good For You.” The storytelling in their songs remains, however, up to par with their previous output. Most songs tell interesting and compelling stories in the vein of Bruce Springsteen and traditional folk songs. The toned back instrumentation gives way for an increased focus in the lyrics and themes, like in the song “Ohio.” Thematically, the record’s main focus is on the past. Myers spends time recalling past relationships and events long gone. This contributes to the calm nostalgic feeling of the album, as most songs deal with events and people of the past.
However, the record is not without flaws. A couple of songs on the album have an indisputable feel of padding or filler. “Good For You” is not a particularly long album to begin with, but coupled with the songs that do not seem to add much to finished product, the record at times feels like an extended EP rather than a full length record. On the other hand, the best parts of the record fail to reach the heights seized by their past efforts. Songs like “Las Vegas” and “Miracle Mile” are probably the highlights of the record, simply because they capture the magic of their first two records better than other songs. While this should not detract from the record in a vacuum, it does point towards how meaningful the loss of Toupin was as a band member after she decided to start a solo career.
While “Good For You” is far being from perfect, it feels like more than just a return to form. It feels like a step toward the right direction. Although Houndmouth might be headed toward the right path this does not mean they are completely in the clear. Nonetheless, the future looks bright for the band. Instrumentally, the record is toned down but not subdued. While still charming and moving, the instrumentals place a bigger focus on the lyrics than ever before. Thankfully, Myers delivers in the lyrical department.
Overall, the record is a great effort. The songs are heartfelt and compelling. While not perfect, “Good For You” should leave listeners hopeful of what the band has yet to come.