Label: Big Potato Records Release date: Out Now Website: Official Myspace There is a curious, lovable grey area between pop melodies and a kind of sparse, mountainous folk that a select few bands inhabit. They take the milieu of a misty morning with clean air in your lungs and revel in it, with the result being a gorgeous record. Midlake did it with The Trials of Van Occupanther, Fleet Foxes did it with their debut self-titled and now Common Prayer have done it with There Is A Mountain. Though Common Prayer distance themselves from the aforementioned by their more off-beat sense of whimsy. Sometime Mercury Rev bassist Jason Sebastian Russo has a tantalizing, fragile voice that evokes (as do his lyrics) braving icy water with a massive smile, and tracks such as ‘Us Vs. Them’ are gorgeous testaments to this, rambling on with a glint in their eye. A peculiar use of percussion and instrumentation also smacks of inventiveness and is a large part of why this album is so consistently and pleasantly surprising. Whether it’s what sounds like a mangled type writer on ‘Commomprayer’ or the echoing rim shots of ‘Marriage Song,’ or simply the myriad of non-instrumental but somehow perfectly fitting sounds, this album has a rare ratio of unique song structures. These almost incongruous additions and the archaic film/radio snippets are reminiscent of Tunng, and certainly as well adopted. Certain tracks are more conventional but to combat this apparent oversight Common Prayer simply make them catchier and arguably even better. ‘Hopewell’ is a joyous ode to slide guitars and the carefree ‘Heys’ of the chorus are infectiously ebullient. ‘Free Air’ is so upbeat wistful that it’s difficult not to sway, the spontaneous grooves and guitar lines proving indelibly evocative. Though some of the later tracks suffer only by contrast to just how good the first two thirds of the album, they're nonetheless worthy of being on the same record, not least because they're a chance to catch your breath. This is a record that is uplifting without being twee, has depth without resorting to self-reflexive melancholy and swerves haphazardly between tender and teasing. If you're a fan of inventive but modest music like Tunng or Erland and the Carnival crossed with Noah and The Whale, then you'll still find that this record will find a niche within your heart and settle in there quite determinedly. Praise be to Common Prayer.