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There's always an air of poise and unease amongst fans when My Morning Jacket announce the release of a new album. The Kentucky group are serial nomads, vacating the ground they've conquered before everybody has had a chance to notice the flag which has been hoisted. By the time that the likes of Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses were attracting critical acclaim and chart success for a reverb-heavy sound based on that of My Morning Jacket's first few records, the group had evolved. It was 2008, and despite asking the question "did we just not do it long enough?" they were focussed on working with the psychedelic, pulsating sounds that define their albums Z and Evil Urges rather than "one more record of harmonies and folk shit."

And the group emerged from that period with what seemed like the all-important final piece of their jigsaw. They held two immersive and spiritualistic records that were able to take their live shows to a hypnotic, ethereal place that not many music fans had experienced before. Their reaction to the inevitable accolades and success that followed was typically aloof. In the wake of American Dad basing an episode on their protagonists' obsession with the band, they received adrenaline shot of exposure. You'd have expected that My Morning Jacket would react to this by continuing in the same vein stylistically and enjoying their well-earned time in the sun. However, Jim James and co. were unfazed, instead opting for a rawer, more sonically honest approach with their 2011 follow-up, Circuital.

History shows that their decision-making may have held them back in terms of mainstream success, but it's never been about that for the group. James' only vision is to "somehow just be true to ourselves and be able to keep making a living." This instinctual decision-making is one of the reasons that they've managed to be both relevant and a step ahead of their sound for the past fifteen years. Four years on from Circuital, we're told a story of new beginnings and acceptance in its close relative, The Waterfall.

This collection is built similarly to Circuital and there's not too much that will be completely foreign for listeners. Whether it's the folk-influenced aesthetics of 'Get The Point' or the immersive 'Tropics (Erase Traces)', most of the components featured have a sense of culpability from the bands past and James' recent solo endeavours. In writing through a self-reflective collage, they are trying new formulas in order to gain a new perspective on older methods. In doing so, the songwriting has become more dynamic and tighter. Otherwise, you can detect an atmosphere influenced by the era of the mid-seventies through to the eighties in which soul and rock n' roll walked hand in hand. Whether it's shards of the soulful Bryan Ferry on 'Compound Fracture' or the understated melodic aperitifs of George Harrison with 'Big Decisions', the material has a pronounced devotion to that warmth.

In the latter half of The Waterfall comes 'Thin Line' - one of the best songs that the group has written to date - and it captures great tension. It has a seemingly simplistic calling hook made up of saccharine, legato style instrumentation and nimble guitar work from Carl Broemel that conjures an atmosphere of calmness but it is brazenly answered by an off-kilter, minor key response. From the top to the bottom, the song walks this tightrope throughout, punctuating the unique clash between brightness and reality that adds a great depth to the whole record.

The Waterfall is inescapably progressive in its developed lyrical content and style. It is brimming with lush sweetness, melancholy, frustration and acceptance that documents the meteoric feeling of moving on from a love in your life. "I hope you get the point, the thrill is gone. I hope you get the point, I think our love is done." James sings on 'Get The Point'. As you can hear on 'Big Decisions' and 'Thin Line' for the first time in their career, James sounds like he is at a loss with what to do and his only remaining option is to walk away from the whole thing. This shift in style doesn't feel like a pessimistic or destructive process though, ultimately leaving you with a different shade of optimism. Instead of painting in broad strokes of spiritual language or speaking through a veil of hopefulness like in "wonderful, the way I feel," he frankly tells us the release's final sentiment; that despite his loss, what's "done is done" and "the love we share outlives us all." It represents the biggest evolution in the group's dialogue since their '99 introduction, At Dawn.

This record should be coupled with its predecessor but it without doubt exceeds its ambitions. Whilst this as much about honesty and a return to core values as Circuital, it has come from a more fraught, pertinent transitional period in the group's time. In many ways, it feels like the bookend to this era for the quintet. Sentimentally, it's a collection obsessed thematically by loss, the unknown, and new beginnings ('Spring Among The Living'). This is a bittersweet send-off to what once was ('Only Memories Remain'), and that idea of new beginnings has bled into the songwriting. Those expecting the sort of upheaval in sound from My Morning Jacket that we've become accustomed to in the past will be disappointed, but the ground they've covered is in unusual territories like language and its intense bindings to the instrumentation. And though these movements can currently seem minor and a little tertiary, if history has taught us anything, it is that we need a little time to pass before we can fully appreciate the significance of the five-piece's decision-making.

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