Witch Hazel Sound This World, Then The Fireworks...

Since their debut album appeared back in 1995, the Witch Hazel Sound has been building up to something special, and considering the time taken between This World, Then The Fireworks... and its predecessor, you’d expect this to be it. Unfortunately their third album peaks far too near the beginning and then drags along, desperately looking for ideas during the second half that just aren’t there. The band keep their more orchestral sound from recent releases, with brass and strings dominating many of the tracks, but it means that they are beginning to sound a lot more conventional. While at one time they stood out from the pack, that isn’t the case any more. The songs are quiet and reflective, veering very close to easy listening territory and borrowing from quite a few other folks along the way — there are touches of Van Dyke Parks, Mercury Rev and even Belle & Sebastian (whose "Dirty Dream Number Two” is pillaged for "Two Or Three Things I Know About Her”) on some tunes. But in doing that, the band’s identity seems to become less important. The Witch Hazel Sound want so hard to be loved that they spent all their energies trying to turn This World, Then The Fireworks... into a likeable album that they lost their focus for probably the first time in their career; a real disappointment. (Hidden Agenda)