Like Leaves – villagerrr (album review)

villagerrr released Like Leaves on January 1st, kicking off 2023 with what would be one of the best releases of the year. It’s worth noting that villagerrr, the alias of indie artist Mark Scott, hails from Ohio. The album cover for Like Leaves features a photograph he took of Lake Michigan, which was redesigned into the current album art by Yawner. ’s David Fuller. Like Leaves makes beautiful use of pedals, soft-spoken lyricism, and plenty of slide guitars. Make no mistake, this is essential listening for fans of Alex G’s music.

Track 1, “Huh…,” runs just over a minute, leading the listener into the album with the swirling sounds of reeling vocals. It’s a sweet little opener that teases a lot of the sounds that will bubble up throughout the project. It feels a lot like rewinding through old memories, which I imagine is probably what listening to this album feels like to Mark Scott.

Track 2, “It Don’t Hurt No More,” is teeming with blooming guitar lines and soft vocals as it rests under the underbrush of steady light strumming.

Track 3, “Honky Tonk Romance,” hits a fuzz pedal 20 seconds in and rockets off into noise-folk. A little under 20 seconds later and the guitar starts scratching out an infectious melody. A recording of muffled conversation plays and the album blows right on through it. As guitars tear up the track, massive riffs kick up into whirlwinds of static. This track is indie rockin’ at its finest.

A sweet medley followed by a faint shaker leads us into track 4, “How Do I Tell You?,” Lyrics float down one by one, painting the picture of someone afraid of drifting apart from another. 

“Met you one summer,
Gave you my number.
Now it’s November,
And you never call me up”

There’s a self-questioning found in the lyrics of this track as Mark Scott asks himself, “Is it good enough? Am I good enough?” in reference to the songs he’s written and, further, to the man he is. It’s a really delicately emotional track that reveals a lot in low-spoken lyrics.

As time passes, the two seem to have trouble with words until finally, Scott finds what they need to say:

“You should open up
You should open up
You never open up
Why don’t you open up?”

It seems like the answer to “How Do I Tell You?” was this song.

Rugged and soft seems paradoxical, and yet it’s what we get in track 5, “Alone.” The song rides along somewhere between the lines of folk and shoegaze, finding its footing in a unique sound. The second half of this track is a blissful whirlpool of noise-folk. The lyrics detail a lonesome feeling that Mark Scott conjures up in his sounds. The message remains steadfast and resolute, realizing that it’s probably for the best.

“Everyone Knows Who You Are” is a beautiful back and forth that meanders along dreamy fuzz-coated guitar. The track sprawls 7 minutes, blurring the lines between soundscape and landscape with samples of rainfall and plenty of organic folk sounds. There’s something really pretty about hearing a finger slide down a guitar whilst it rains outside. 

“Fall” stirs up a sea of gain as Mark Scott tells tales of love. He adorns the track with little lyrics about nature and his feelings for this person. The short two minute track leaves a cute impression before fading out into a “bzzt” of amp static.

The title track “Like Leaves” falls in line at number 8 on the tracklist. The song saunters gently downward, with synths surrounded by hypnotic guitar lines somewhat reminiscent of “Runway Houses City Clouds.” The drums are a steady walk forward in the sea of soft sounds that are ever changing yet always the same.

Track 9 is by far my favorite track on the album and quite possibly my favorite song of 2023. “Pretty Little Liar” walks in with a soft and soothing guitar that then takes to the skies with the help of a sweet synthesizer. The whispered lyrics from Mark Scott and the guest voice of Cam Garshon make this such a special performance on that album. Each part of the track is so intricately layered together as to not offset any other piece. Everytime that synth melody comes back into the track, I can’t help but think of the infectious “When You Sleep” melody from my bloody valentine. Near the end of the track, the synthesizer takes the reins of the song and drives it deeper into the churning melody before reaching a brief wall of static.

“Driving” is a down tempo track that boasts some beautiful slide guitar playing. Once again, Scott is once again joined by the voice Cam Garshon. In its lyrics, the track talks about the way people change and the weight of loneliness. The 6 minute song flows along til it finally fades out in the serenade of guitar.

“Walk” is decorated with slide guitar melodies, outsider lyrics, and gentle vocals. The track kicks it up a notch when a fuzz pedal is thrown into the whole thing. The way that the song ends is interesting, closing out with a series of droning guitars that crawl to a stop at the 4 minute mark. 

“Plant Song” ends the album on a soft note, accompanied only by a drum machine. The lyrics describe a desire to “plant a garden,” but it seems more profound than that; it’s a desire to build something with someone. Rattling guitar lines carve their way throughout the track, and Scott sings sweet nothings (la la la) above it. This builds up into a storm of sounds that only quell with the close of the track, furthermore, the album.

In conclusion, Like Leaves compiles a creative conglomerate of sounds and meshes them together into an incredibly diverse listening experience. From soft, coated, fuzzy melodies that could go on for hours without dulling, to honey-sweet vocal melodies, to chugging folk guitar below heartfelt lyrics, there’s really nowhere that you’d wanna go that this album doesn’t already take you to.

Favorite Tracks: Pretty Little Liar, Alone, Honky Tonk Romance, How Do I Tell You, and Plant Song.

Listen to Like Leaves below!

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