20 for ’14: Woods – With Light and With Love

Part 4 of a 20 part run down of my favourite tracks from last year

Prior to 2014’s With Light and With Love Woods had been the dictionary definition of consistency – they’d pushed out 5 effortlessly charming albums of laid back indie rock in as many years and toured near constantly. You knew what you were going to get with them. Which was great when you’re in the mood for them – but as proficient as they are at their craft it all sort of blurred into a bit of a pleasant but unspectacular mulch. The only song I could really remember of theirs when pushed was the excellent Shins-esque Suffering Season from 2010’s At Echo Lake, a song whose chorus still infiltrated my brain every now and again 4 years on. The rest was just stuff I’d enjoyed, but couldn’t particularly pinpoint why and never really rushed to enjoy again.

They took a couple of years out and moved into a bigger studio for With Light and With Love – and it shows. Everything is that bit less hazy and more precise throughout, even throughout the 9+ minutes of the title track. It’s littered with neat guitar solos and breakdowns but doesn’t ever feel like an aimless jam. It’s loose enough to feel fun and get lost in the zig-zagging organ meandering and guitar wig-outs – it’s been the accompaniment to many a zoned out lazy train ride watching the world go by for me – then whenever it starts to feel aimless you’re scooped up by that insistent chorus and everything pulls together again. It’s a refocussing of energy more than a reinvention for Woods but then they were only ever a stones throw away from being a damn fine band. On With Light and With Love they got their throwing arm working and found their aim to be true.