The Head and the Heart is one of the few bands on the radio making authentic, organic-sounding music. Despite the trends of overproduction and electronic influence, The Head and the Heart has stayed true to its Seattle bar-scene roots. While the band is often associated with indie folk names like The Lumineers and Fleet Foxes, their new album Living Mirage takes on a more standard, pop-rock sound, closely mimicking the psychedelic blues of Fleetwood Mac.
The first song on the album, “See You Through My Eyes,” emulates the well known acoustic sound The Head and the Heart has crafted over the course of their past four albums. Combining a healthy mix of vocal harmonies, acoustic strings and subtle percussion, the tune serves as a warm welcome for The Head and the Heart to say, “We’re back.”
On top of the rooted acoustics across the album’s eleven songs, The Head and the Heart incorporate a lot of gospel, sing-songy elements to many of their tunes. “Honeybee” is a softer, soulful ballad, musically echoing the painful surrender of regret and heartbreak expressed within the song’s lyrics.
“I Found Out” takes a more upbeat approach, but still contains a dynamic, choir-like sound. With bluesy piano riffs and authoritative percussion, “I Found Out” embraces a gospel sound while maintaining the rustic character of the band’s music.
While their music expands outward into new realms of musicality, the band’s lyrics continue to move inward, grappling with difficult emotions without the dramatic catharsis often portrayed in modern music. The Head and the Heart spend much of the album coping with growing pains and all of the trials and tribulations they’ve found along the way, whether it be in their musical journey, relationships or simply their experiences “growing up.”
“Up Against the Wall” describes the isolation felt in the midst of change and testifies to how “There’s no way, no way out” of loneliness when it’s felt deeply. “Honeybee” also dives into some hard emotions dealing with regret in the line “to the scars that we never really owned as ours.” The Head and the Heart knows how to express complex emotions with ease, and their understandable, honest lyrics hold some promises of shared human experiences despite these complexities.
Although a majority of the album is devoted to dissecting the emotions felt through change, The Head and the Heart also promotes some of the positive, hopeful messages fans admire in the band. The album starts and ends on a high note, leaving listeners with an overall message of hope and love, even in the middle of chaos. “See You Through My Eyes” is all about self-love and how “Until you learn to love yourself / The door is locked to someone else.”
The album’s closing song, “Glory of Music,” takes on a more hopeful, preachy vibe with the repeated line “We are the power of music.” While the song has a lot to do with challenging beliefs and making one’s voice heard, the band offers up some hope for music to overcome conflict. The song wraps up the album well and would certainly serve as a passionate sing-along for a live performance.
The band has embraced their name well, addressing the struggle one feels between their “head” and their “heart.” In “Missed Connection,” a single released prior to the album’s debut, the band sings, “I lost myself in this maze / Yes, it haunts me,” demonstrating the perplexity associated with finding a balance between reason and emotion. The tune does not shy away from putting a name to the confusion of “following your heart” when your head is telling you otherwise.
Overall, Living Mirage is a fantastic precursor to summer and a great collection to jam to if you want to feel something real. The authenticity of the album paints a perfect picture of a bunch of buddies gathered on a porch singing away their heartbreak, and this sense of community and shared experience brings a warm, cozy element to the album. The Head and the Heart has given us something to hold onto and find comfort in, and its encouragement for people to engage in the lives and stories of other people is anything but a “missed connection.”