At first it sounds like scratchy old vinyl, but actually it’s the crackle of fire that leads off the warm and sumptuous new album from Brooklyn’s Widowspeak. On “Almanac,” the indie-rock duo of singer-guitarist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas shed early comparisons to Mazzy Star. Their latest is widescreen Americana shot through with sparkling guitars and a buoyancy largely missing on their 2011 self-titled debut. If Fleetwood Mac had made “Tusk” in the woods, it would have sounded like “Almanac.” Hamilton’s mercurial voice, a testament to the power of suggestion, guides the songs down forked paths. Like Beach House, she and Thomas are finely tuned to what makes the other so compelling; his guitar playing is as elemental as her voice. They take shoegaze to Nashville on the twangy but ethereal “Sore Eyes,” and a ’70s rock riff underpins “Devil Knows.” The chirp of crickets sets the tone for the pastoral folk of “Minnewaska.” Transcendent before it becomes brawny, “Ballad of the Golden Hour” captures Widowspeak’s newfound urgency. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Ballad of the Golden Hour”
Widowspeak performs at Great Scott on Jan. 27.