The National Parks | Wildflower | (independent)
3.5 out of 5 Stars
In many ways, the National Parks are the perfect pop band. They’re giddy when the mood calls for it, and tender and charming whenever further enticement is needed. Not surprisingly then, they’ve gotten due respect over the years, capitalizing on their name to appear at an official ceremony to commemorate the Park Service’s centennial and earning enough acclaim to find themselves voted Salt Lake City’s best band. Those kudos are well deserved, and if radio worthiness counts for anything, The National Parks’ accumulated success is hardly unexpected.
With their new album, Wildflower (pre-save), the band presses their advantage even further than before, providing a series of songs designed to entice their listeners while easing them into their fold. There’s little in the way of anything especially adventurous here, other than an opening sweep of sound that characterizes the introductory track “Superbloom.” As a result, the songs are mostly of a concise, carefully crafted and easily accessible variety. They’re easy listening by the very definition, alternately pleasing on the one hand and mostly perky on the other. Here again, there’s nothing particularly challenging about any of these tracks, which apparently is by design.
Still, those that enjoy effortless ear candy ought to find plenty to admire here. The lively rhythms that accompany the title track, the upbeat appeal of “Time,” and the earnest affability of “Many Moons” provide a striking contrast to the gentle caress that graces “Blue Moonlight,” “Mad Man,” “War Cry,” “Daze,” and “Chance.” Not that the band is complacent; there’s perfect pop found in songs such as “I Can Feel It” and “Painted Sky” and it’s good enough sustain that effortless, upbeat feeling.
As a result, a venture into The National Parks provides a pleasant sojourn, with enough entertainment and enjoyment to sustain a prolonged encounter. That said, it takes several listens before the songs sink in enough to really resonate and seem to stand out on their own. All in all, these National Parks are well worth a visit, but don’t necessarily justify any frequent return engagements.