album review | folk

Horse Feathers, ‘Cynic’s New Year’

There's consistency and there’s consistency, and on “Cynic’s New Year,” Portland, Ore., indie-folk duo Horse Feathers stick so firmly to their sonic guns that it becomes tightly constricting. “A Heart Arcane” and “Summer for Capricorns” open and close the album and while there’s a charm to their baroque simplicity, the preponderance of shared elements speaks to the lack of movement in getting from the one to the other. Despite additional instruments augmenting Justin Ringle’s acoustic guitar and Nathan Crockett’s violin, the album rarely wavers from a rustic hush. Much of that can be traced back to Ringle’s voice, a round folk tenor that expands to fill however much reverb it’s given. But the songs themselves don’t give Horse Feathers many other options. That’s clearest on “Nearly Old Friends,” which sounds like the two chords that open up the main body of “You Can't Always Get What You Want” circling each other without quite resolving into anything. (Out now) Marc Hirsh

ESSENTIAL “A Heart Arcane”

Horse Feathers performs at the Brighton Music Hall May 5.