Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson – Small Changes We Hardly Notice EP – 89%

“Don’t throw out your winter clothes; the way our glances froze, it just might snow”

‘Small Changes We Hardly Notice’ is the unassuming new EP from the Norwegian post-rock band Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson. Youth Pictures… started their musical career in 2005 with their debut album, ‘Unnoticeable in a Tiny Town’, that featured epic track durations and spoken-word samples overlayed by expansive soundscapes. With this they accrued a small yet dedicated fan base, to whom the intelligent and forward-thinking music appealed. A lot has changed in the last 7 years however; namely, their style has been stripped back and refined to comprise more concise indie-rock songs, with a heavy focus on lyrics and vocal delivery. This — coupled with the fact that Youth Pictures… chose to sign with popular “emo revival” label Count Your Lucky Stars to release this EP — might have been cause for concern. Fortunately, the band’s experience with crafting dense and atmospheric post-rock has not been relinquished, as every moment in this EP is awash with a sense of delicacy and warmth.

With its combination of soft vocals and shoegaze-inspired aural passages, the closest comparison that could be made with regards to ‘Small Changes We Hardly Notice’ would be with The Appleseed Cast, circa ‘Low Level Owl’. This is the type of music that isn’t instantly astonishing; the band tends to defer away from hook-laden melodies and catchy refrains in favour of a more warm, layered sound. As such, upon my first listen I might have gone so far as to say that this EP is nice, yet forgettable. But I kept coming back to it, and it’s because of the inherent (I’ve said it twice before and I’ll say it once more) warmth that emanates throughout the 23-minute run-time of this EP. Even if it’s not inordinately exciting (there are screamed vocals, however they’re so unobtrusive that you’d be hard-pressed to notice them at first), this release is comforting to the utmost.

Many bands of the post-rock arena aspire to take you somewhere you’ve never been before. Listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor evokes a feeling of isolation, loss and loneliness. Sigur Ros might break your heart. It’s good to feel like this sometimes; it enables you to connect and resonate emotionally with the music. Listening to Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson maintains a much-needed balance. This is winter music. But it isn’t the kind that places you in a desolate blizzard, or slaps snow in your face and makes you feel alive. ‘Small Changes We Hardly Notice’ instead brings you inside, wraps you in a blanket and sits you in front of the fire. It rests your pulse and puts a smile on your face. It’s cosy, and that’s perfectly fine.

Available for $4 or more at Bandcamp: http://countyourluckystars.bandcamp.com/album/small-changes-we-hardly-notice