Thistled Spring just as much as House with No Home (my favorite album of '08).
Lead singer Justin Ringle and his compatriots didn't change their sound that much from '08 until now, but there's enough differentiation to make it feel like a new album. Horse Feathers also prove that you can judge an album by its cover. Home featured an old barn atop a snow-covered hill, suggesting emptiness and melancholy, while Spring's cover is budding leaves, suggesting new life. However, the music seems to fit the season of spring, but there is a lyrical undertone that suggests death instead of life, as evidenced in the song "Starving Robins." That's something that's so amazing about Horse Feathers: they can sing about death in such a beautiful sounding setting. This is also true with my favorite track, "The Drought" (which is, not surprisingly, about a severe lack of water):
I'll be honest: the first two or three times I heard that song I held my hands over my mouth and sat silently. I probably could've forced some tears or something. Breath-taking. Haunting. Beautiful. "It's bearing down on me, / There's no clouds in the sky. / [I] Hear the pines crack and cry, / There's no reason to try." Stuff is dying in that song, but the sonic beauty somehow envelops the lyrical sadness, and pushes past it ... but to what, I don't know. I would absolutely love to have a long sit-down conversation with Justin and the gang about the lyrical content versus the overall sound.
Blurb: I'm not sure how the best keep getting better, but these guys do it. It'll be a miracle if this isn't my favorite album of the year when January rolls around.