Gentle and understated indie rock is upon us. While The Decemberists seem to have skipped the "understated" part on their most recent release, "The Crane Wife," Ontario, Canada's A Northern Chorus aims to perfect it on "The Millions Too Many." The band's fourth album, it sees the return of violinist Erin Aurich and the addition of drummer Craig Halliday. A Northern Chorus rein themselves in for "The Millions Too Many," abandoning their previous habit of having eight plus minute long songs in favor of a leaner six minutes, and focus on weightless melodies that have substance and depth.
A Northern Chorus makes "The Millions Too Many" into an intimate conversation where they whisper ever so quietly in to your ear. But it is also like listening to the band perform the album in a huge room with poor acoustics. Often going so quiet that you are forced to turn up the volume, only to have to quickly turn it back down as the band build up the instrumentation, as on "No Stations," a gentle song accented with lightly jingling percussion and resonating guitar which transforms it from being just another ballad. Similarly, "Ethic of the Pioneer" creates the same volume dance as A Northern Chorus solidify the song with loud guitar riffs and horns, going for volume over richness. The band infuses some rhythm into their melodies with the upbeat "Remembrance Day" while "The Canadian Shield" offers gently crashing instrumentation.
Lush, melodic instrumentation awaits listeners on A Northern Chorus' "The Millions Too Many." While many bands want to force their ideas and their music into your head, A Northern Chorus has a much shyer and formal approach. They chose to slowly pull you in until, before you realize it, the entire album has played. With their instrumentally driven tracks, A Northern Chorus smartly take the right approach by keeping track lengths limited instead of endlessly droning on.