As summer begins to slowly fade and hopes of cool weather rise, the latest EP from Four Families entitled, Circuitry, creates the perfect soundtrack for the transition into autumn. The follow-up to the band’s first full-length and self-titled album in 2014, this EP is a lush soundscape for wandering through a haunted coniferous forest.
The original lineup, Robin Rütenberg (The Little Books), Summer Wood (Tomboi), Naarah Strokosch and Quinn Mellon (Civil Brute), first started playing together in the fall of 2011. After their first album release in 2014, the Circuitry EP was recorded later that spring with Brian Squillace of Sea Cycles, sans Quinn Mellon on bass, who parted to focus on his other project, Civil Brute.
Rütenberg states that although the dynamics have changed and they do miss Mellon on bass, the band, most notably Strokosch on cello, has compensated and filled in on the EP where needed. As a three piece, Four Families has been successful in their effort to utilize their instruments and compose in way that creates large, lush and complete sounds on Circuitry, an EP that seems to be missing nothing at all. Mellon, however, will be joining the band on stage for the release of the EP on Friday, September 4.
The EP’s first track, “Circuitry,” is a confident start to the five-song set, as twangy piano and guitar follow the drums through a whirlwind mash of the Doors meets Talking Heads with a twist. This social commentary describes a city in the works but change never seems to come along.
Not to be outdone by the first, the second track begins with loud, punchy drums, washy cymbals and distorted guitar. “Wind” quickly transforms into melodic electric guitar with soaring, wavy cello and an almost breakbeat type of drums, which provide excellent contrast. The song later comes to a close in an amazing maelstrom of cello, drums and very catchy guitar riffs. A very introspective and thought-provoking song, “Wind” delves into the emotions found when one gives themselves to another in a relationship.
“Olives Eyes” creates yet another melodic tune to get lost in on your walk through the imaginary forest. Ghostly whispers of backing vocals accompany the handsome reverb of the guitar, which is complemented by the following cello. This track may embody the entire mood of the Circuitry EP, as the harmonious melodies of all the instruments and vocals come together.
As the EP reaches it end, the beautifully dreamy and languid “Zwei” gradually lays the listener to rest in the best way possible. One may lose themselves in the floating, swaying cello and gentle roll of the tom drums, with faint sounds of rainfall and crickets in the distance.
The outro and last song on the EP is a somewhat familiar reprise of “Olive Eyes,” as only a piano plays, ending the song set in a soft and quiet way.
Four Families is something similar of a cross between Grizzly Bear and Local Natives, recorder in a fictitious, spooky and haunted cabin in the woods. Yet the band definitely sets themselves apart, creating their own recognizable sound. There is obvious inspiration derived from the surrounding fauna and nature alike in Florida, as well as the complex emotions found in human relationships.
The five songs are over before you know it, easily letting the listener replay the EP again and again. These ladies do a great job of creating a full and embellished set of songs. Although most of the band is involved in other projects, one can only hope there is more to come from this talented group in the future. Catch Four Families at Rain Dogs in Riverside on Friday, September 4th for their EP release and music video premiere for “Circuitry,” directed by Ashley Earles-Bennett. Supporting Four Families for the show will be Jacksonville natives, All the Oceans. If you cannot see the band this week, Four Families will also be performing at RAM in Riverside on October 17.