For a genre that defines itself by working outside of convention and following its own set of rules, indie rock has followed a fairly standard formula for mainstream success in recent years. A tight song structure, a hook-heavy chorus, and a few lush, poppy guitar lines can carry even the most under-the-radar bands to heights that once seemed implausible just over a decade ago. Just look at what it did for Modest Mouse. That said, Pomegranates are a band of the times, and they know the rules. The Cincinnati, OH-based indie poppers won’t sell anyone on their ingenuity, but Heaven, the band’s fourth release and first for the Modern Outsider label, is ample proof that the band knows their way around a pop song.
Soaring, angular guitar work, echoey vocals, ample organ, and a bevy of subtle studio touches define Heaven, which makes good use of the lush, atmospheric sounds first popularized by bands like Joy Division and The Smiths so many years ago, albeit without much of said bands’ maudlin undertones. The album opener and title track sets the tone with numerous interlocking layers, and flourishes that make for music as exotic and inviting as the band’s name might suggest. The peaceful, blissed out “Something Everybody Wants”, on the other hand, wallows in sweet-sounding, piano-driven ambiance. But even when the band decides to get louder and crankier, as on “Night Run”, they still exercise a deft mastery of sonic arrangement.
Indie purists might scoff at Pomegranates’ willingness to settle cozily into a complacent happy place where the less challenging sounds of new school indie rock reign, but beyond that narrow scope, it’s easy to see that the band has a pretty good thing going for itself. Heaven is the work of an act largely disinterested in being pinned down by indie rock dogma, and instead far more interested in writing solid pop songs. All things considered, it’s fair to say that they made a wise decision.
Essential Tracks: “Heaven,” ”Something Everybody Wants,” “Night Run”