Often, archetypal indie pop concerns itself with loss, generally that of some idealized relationship or another. However, Still Life’s new album shifts its creative focus to a different type of loss: mourning the deaths of extended family members of the band. This theme attests to the collective history of the musicians, who have been playing together since childhood. Every track reflects on these experiences, but it feels more like a tribute to living on rather than a cry against the unfairness of the world.
Mourning Trance opens with “Burial Suit,” a sedate track that sometimes suffers from poorly intertwined elements, drowning out lyricism. “Dancing Spines” is where the album begins to engage, with punchy vocals and bass riffs that clearly represent one of the band’s strengths. “Revolving Doors” is another exemplary song, in large part due to the mastery of the layering of different sections that the band seemed to strive for in the beginning of the album- every component seems deliberate. “Hanging With Our Family” begins almost like a hymn, with a lethargic coupling of vocals and keyboard. Only as the song and the album itself come to a close does it begin to be drowned in sonic feedback.
Unfortunately, Still Life hardly differentiates themselves sonically from their musical peers. Nevertheless, most of the album is likable, and there’s no good reason to bemoan the interesting sound of Still Life’s mourning music.