A few years ago, the burgeoning alt-folk scene found its second wind, when it went from producing stripped solo singer/songwriters into alt-folk collectives, as multiple multi-instrumentalists got together (usually with at least one female to add feminine vocals to the already-full toolkit). One of those that sprung forth was Queens’ Freelance Whales in Weathervanes (QRO review), a debut record that evoked the end of a magical summer. Things have gotten brighter in follow-up Diluvia, if also simpler.
Brightness pervades nearly all of Diluvia, from opener “Aeolus” on down, and while it’s never off-putting or too bright, Freelance Whales often don’t impress as much as Weathervanes did. There are some better brighteners, such as “Spitting Image” (where resident lady Doris Cellar takes over from usual lead vocalist/frontman Judah Dadone), or the following “Locked Out” – but they do somewhat highlight that Freelance Whales can/could do more. Diluvia lacks some of the wistfulness that balanced out Weathervanes, and even when some of it comes back in the back half, like the building-to-brightness “Winter Seeds”, the loss of penultimate “DNA Bank”, or subdued closer “Emergence Exit”, it does point out what was missing on the first half.
Diluvia is still a good record that should be warmly embraced by Freelance fans, if not the revelation that Weathervanes was.