Kiri Oliver and Heidi Vanderlee of Early Riser chase each other’s pitch though Currents like two blissed-out mice running in a field of tall grass during a crisp golden hour. Their voices jump close as they race on this debut LP, just a step away from one another. It’s chemistry reminiscent of a feel-good buddy comedy with subtle pop-punk undertones. Not every lyric is an escape to jubilation, there’s plenty of singer-songwriter sharing of awkward moments and missed opportunities. Vanderlee’s ever-present cello adds a complexity that creates warm moments of nostalgia and undefeatable optimism fitting for Fievel’s next adventure.
“The Nevers” sums up the musical balance of the album, “I feel invincible today, my hands are magnetic and can catch anything that comes my way. I refuse to fall apart, just pour some plaster in the cracks and call it art.” Oliver sings those words with the consistent flow of a stream, barely pausing to catch her breath in between verses. Not feeling rushed, but rather an exuberant sharing of her thoughts as they process. This delivery adds to the exuding positivity. This feeling is further present on the cover, as a bending current of rainbows emerges from the contour line drawn house in the background.
The sketchbook freshness of that cover illustration accompanied by the DIY sounds here represents the charm of Early Riser well. The lines are patterned, but not overly planned. It’s loose, but confident, just like the recording. Hearing and seeing the creator in any endeavor can build a stronger connection. That’s why you hear radio-friendly tracks scrutinized for being too polished, there’s a disconnect with the listener. Currents bring in cello, piano, and an organ at times to develop a complete sound. It’s not as loose as Elliott Smith in a basement with an acoustic, but it maintains a connection to the creator. Oliver and Vanderlee don’t have a voice that would land them on TV competition series and they wear it proudly. There’s no apparent auto-tune here, and that’s another reason to get immersed in it. The pitch rides comfortably in shotgun with the piano keys and high E-strings.
There are similarities to Waxahatchee’s deep-cut lyrics and the snark of GirlPool’s songwriting that reveal Early Riser finding a medium all their own. They address that the steps of life won’t go 100% as planned on Currents. Residing across one borough from where Simon and Garfunkel mastered harmonies, it appears the current flowed across the East River for something inspiring.