For its eighth album, Woods ditched immediacy in favor of precision, choosing to record in a studio rather than in frontman Jeremy Earl’s living room, where the Brooklyn psych-folk band used to consider a track done after just one take. It was a smart decision: Woods has never sounded tighter. Yet With Light and With Love is every bit as raw, compelling, and jammy as the band’s earlier work. If anything, the album is likely to expand Woods’ fanbase beyond its hard-core devotees, and serve as a rebuttal to those who have written the group off as a bunch of hippies.
The rock-solid core of the album is its title track, which clocks in at a whopping nine minutes and is a sonic odyssey of sorts. It opens with twangy guitar and Earl’s trademark falsetto singing simple refrains about indecision and mortality. Midway through, the melody dissipates and the song morphs into a wailing, darkly psychedelic guitar solo. That drops off as well, and slowly but surely, a catchy, finger-snapping drumbeat begins to build the song back up to rocking proportions. That’s followed by the soft rocker “Moving to the Left,” which sounds like a radio hit — and that’s not an insult. Although these songs sound like they’re by two different bands, they coexist seamlessly. The whole album is like that.
By choosing to be more experimental and yet also more calculated, Woods shines with confidence. (Woodsist)