Curious Quail writes soundtracks for movies that haven’t yet been written.
Binging on volumes of Calvin & Hobbes compilations and video games, the San Jose quintet has released their second, full effort. The brain-child of vocalist/guitarist, Mike Shirley-Donnelly, CQ is it’s own beast, now. After all, Shirley-Donnely surrounded himself with a handful of formally trained, orchestrally-inclined music nerds to bust out some devastating, addictive pop songs.
CQ whimsically splices in bits of rock, chiptune, and strings to produce a thick, cerebral experience, leaving their listeners audibly full, engorged, helpless. You feel nostalgic, but don’t know exactly why. You feel angsty, without reason or direction.
Nostaligia-laced songs like the title track, “Moon+Stars,” and “Refugee Camp” give way to the Americana-tinged, haunting, “Braid,” “Heavy Rain,” or “Villian” smacking of bands like R.E.M. or Conor Oberst’s earlier musings. The sheer pop-sensibilities prompts heavier fare on “Apart We Are Together,” “Instant Gratification,” “Reconstruction” and “Giraffes.” The entire “After the Lights Failed” experience doesn’t leave after the almost 37 minute soiree, leaving you silent, with your thoughts and grasping for the repeat button.
For a full sophomore effort, Curious Quail proves themselves an unstoppable force in the bay area music scene. A well articulated, wholly enamoring act, CQ leaves you grateful for their essence. “After the Lights Failed” is just mere evidence, therein.
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