Paste (magazine) - "[T]he production is bright and clean, not dense and grimy as before, the better to appreciate her lovely voice and shiny melodies."
Personnel: Ricci Swift, Jessica Numsuwankijkul (vocals, guitar); Richard Thomas (vocals); Jeff Berner, Matt Billington (guitar); John Stanesco (saxophone); Cici Harrison, Julian Fader (drums).
Recording information: Serious Business Studios, Brooklyn, NY (2014-2015); Studio G, Brooklyn, NY (2014-2015).
Heliotropes' second album, 2016's Over There That Way, sounds like the work of a very different band than their 2013 debut, A Constant Sea, and with good reason. With the exception of guitarist, songwriter, and group leader Jessica Numsuwankijkul, no one from that first album appears on the follow-up, and a crew of nine different players back Numsuwankijkul on these sessions (two of whom are now part of the group's official lineup, guitarist Ricci Swift and bassist Richard Thomas). Beyond the different set of musicians, Over There That Way backs off a bit from the big, grungy guitar attack of A Constant Sea in favor of a relatively poppier and more easygoing approach (though "War Isn't Over" demonstrates Numsuwankijkul can still bring forth that monolithic guitar tone when it's useful). While Heliotropes display a lighter touch on Over There That Way, thematically the album is substantive; Numsuwankijkul went on a binge of studying World Wars I and II while she was writing these songs, and the human impact of armed conflict, both at home and on the front, informs the material. These ten songs aren't guided by a larger narrative, but enough of the themes return again and again that Over There That Way feels like a concept album, and the echoey simplicity of the arrangements and production gives the music a unity that holds the individual tracks together quite well. Though there's a dour shade to some of the melodies, Numsuwankijkul keeps the sound of the album just upbeat enough to keep this from seeming like a collection of dirges, with touches like the very '50s sax on "Wherever You Live." Over There That Way doesn't seem like the obvious path Heliotropes could have taken after A Constant Sea, which is to its advantage, demonstrating Numsuwankijkul isn't just a one trick pony. ~ Mark Deming