On May 29, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros released Here, their followup to 2009’s Up from Below. With their sophomore album the band promises the same full instrumental sound, folksy vibe, and relaxing vocals, allowing the listener a constant sense of warmth and security.

With previous hits “Home” and “Janglin’”, Here either had a lot to live up to or was released to an easy transition to success. While that may be too early to determine, first single and first track “Man On Fire” doesn’t disappoint. With Alex Ebert’s vocals echoed by baritone oohs, acoustic guitar and shakers, and Jade Castrinos’ bright melody, “Man On Fire” strikes up images of dancing feet by a campfire.

“You be the church, I’ll be the steeple” chimes second track “That’s What’s Up”, until it builds up to an almost Toy Story-esque “You’ve Got A Friend” feel. The interesting thing about this band is that the majority of the members sing while strumming away at the banjo, blowing the milk jug, clapping along, or scraping the wash board. All of this adds to the majestic and mighty verses of a spiritual sing a long, much like the ones featured in next track “I Don’t Want to Pray.”

“Mayla” is a serenade of a Southern Belle, with dreamy vocals, wind chimes, and enchanting soft metallic chirps that almost make the song psychedelic (I almost remember hearing the same effect on MGMT’s song “Congratulations”).  “Dear Believer” continues the same laid back tempo, adding easy-going old amphitheatre sounding piano, until waxing into thunderous drums and trumpet.

The simple “Child” features just acoustic guitar, gentle piano tinklings, and Ebert’s soothing vocals. For a large band, “Child” shows how easy it is for them to strip down to grassroots. In great contrast, “One Love to Another” contains multiple layers showing off the band’s size. What sounds like an upright bass thumps along while Ebert’s main vocals are echoed by Castrino’s and further echoed by the other backers. “Fiya Wata” lets Castrino shine as her girlish yet powerful vocals take the wheel. With a mostly male band, it’s refreshing to hear a female voice among the baritone. It’s also a giant positive that more than one lead singer is capable of taking the reins. Closing track “All Wash Out” continues the relaxation and tranquility as the folklore plays out over whistling and appropriate rain and shaker sounds. Cymbal clashes mimic thunder while piano keys happily chime under lyrics “love is something to believe in.”

While there isn’t much variation throughout the album, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Here provides a soundtrack of serenity and a sign of consistency. The soothing vocals paired with the down south, country fair feel allow for easy listening and dreams of relaxing outside of the hustle and bustle of city life.

Grade: B+

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