Is there a more underrated Los Angeles band than Earlimart? While fellow Silverlake darlings Sea Wolf and Silversun Pickups dominate the spotlight, Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray have spent the better part of a decade quietly creating hushed, lush indie-pop.
The excellent Hymn and Her, Earlimart’s second album in less than a year and seventh overall, is no different. Breezy guitar shambling and Espinoza’s breathy, fragile voice recall Elliott Smith’s effortless melancholy (a frequent comparison for the band), while “Song For” mashes together lower-register piano and Brit-pop jangle, and gorgeous keyboards and Murray’s bewitching vocal lead make “Time for Yourself” a sweet-and-sour pop delight.
The hymnal organ, sparse acoustic guitar and molasses tempo of “Great Heron Gates” resemble the quiet, candlelit moments of Yo La Tengo, while sinister co-ed harmonies on highlight “Teeth” hint at The Raveonettes’ best moments. Hymn is far more complex than those descriptions might suggest, though, mainly because little flourishes—the pointed trumpet ending a sighing “Face Down in the Right Town,” the sound effect of a door slamming after a lyric referencing the act, echoing background vocals—crop up unexpectedly.
Like on previous albums, Earlimart’s twinges of late-afternoon sunshine succeed because they never lose sight of the hopeful things that might be just around the corner.
The bottom line:***1/2