The first two artists that popped into my head while listening to the Widest Smiling Faces self-titled album were Atlas Sound and The Microphones, which is immediately good company. The project of Aviv Cohn, the Widest Smiling Faces combines acoustic riffs with reverb, creating an eerie bedroom vibe.
From the beginning of the *12-song album through the end, the guitar is crisp, but just muddled enough to add a background that harmonizes with the rest of the song. The harmonies behind the guitar playing add another degree to the music, filling the empty space that would otherwise be there. The opening track, “My Room,” sets the tone for the entire album, showcasing everything that is present, while the title really does make the listener think about this being meticulously recorded in a bedroom, while trying to get every little detail right.
One of the greatest strengths of Cohn’s writing in the Widest Smiling Faces is that his vocals do not always have to carry the melody. He lets the guitar speak on its bed of reverb when necessary. One track that stands out to me as a changeup from the rest of the album is the third track, “Edge of a Knife.” Here it’s just Cohn and his guitar, no reverb, no frills. The result is a cutting melody, much like that of a knife, that reminds me much of Straylight Run in the delivery and content.
The crowning achievement of the album is “The only lonely ocean.” This song immediately struck me during it’s soft instrumental intro, but as soon as the guitar melody started playing, I was immediately enthralled. The walking riff almost reminds me of a Christmas-time melody, but the ocean of reverb darkens the mood. Instantly my favorite track, “The only lonely ocean” is the Widest Smiling Faces as a whole, the embodiment of the entire album.
One more track I felt a great connection with was “Jellyfish Song.” The way delay is used on the sound of a hand sliding on acoustic guitar strings is strangely haunting and makes for a deep ambient background.
I enjoyed this album immensely, and it’s going to go on my playlist for winter albums, along with Atlas Sound albums and Microphones albums. It’s the perfect album for a cold winter day or late at night when you just want to stare at the ceiling.
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