The Innocence Mission – See You Tomorrow
For those who dig what The Innocence Mission do, their latest postcard from the edge will give you all you need
Your willingness to go where The Innocence Mission want to take you will be largely predicated on your reaction to frontwoman Karen Peris’ gentler-than-gentle vocal stylings. The Innocence Mission are the kind of band that would cower by the railings whenever Belle & Sebastian strut across the playground, and their 12th album, See You Tomorrow, sees them ploughing a slightly more piano-heavy furrow than before.
Other than that, all of the standard Innocence Mission tropes are present and correct. Winsome vocals; furtive, insistent acoustic refrains; piano played as if in presentiment of imminent rain. For the most part, this is an album of stark minimalism and mordant melancholy, music made for people who are not quick to dismiss something if it sounds downbeat.
See You Tomorrow is a quiet record, one for the morning after a regretful heavy night. Listen to John As Well with its point-counterpoint of sweet vocals with humming backing vocals, sparse, occasional piano and sudden almost Spanish guitars. Sometimes Peris sings as if English isn't her first language, sounding out words as if they hold a mysteriousness distinct from meaning, as if she only heard them half an hour earlier.
It takes repeated plays to reveal the subtle depths, the pump organ, accordion, electric bass, melodica, mellotron. Sometimes – as in Mary Margaret In Mid-Air, where Peris duets with her husband Don, the two of them asking 'Will she love me / Pass it on' – you can almost hear the basement in which the album was recorded. It comes as no surprise to find out that Sufjan Stevens is a big fan.
At times – on songs like We Don't Know How To Say Why and Stars That Fall Away From Us – they are majestic, transcendant, entrancing, transfixing. You're lifted out of yourself as if visited by angels. Other times, such as on album opener The Brothers Williams Said, you want to give them a hug, tell them it will be okay, ask them if they need a nice cup of tea. It's serious, is what we're saying; not music for people who want a quick two-second fix of wonderfulness. You have to live with this. Admire its prettiness from afar. Let it work its magic on you.
'I'm always on your side', Peris sings early on and it feels good, like something you'd want. Yes it's precious and possibly not for everyone, but for those people who dig what The Innocence Mission do, their latest postcard from the edge will give you all you need.
Listen to: We Don't Know How To Say Why, Mary Margaret In Mid-Air, I Would Be There