In just its first few seconds, you realise Garden Of Arms is worlds away from the blues-tinged folk-pop of Peter Wolf Crier’s debut: Piano chords recorded, reversed and looped. This beginning epitomises the entire record and its biggest weakness; what follows – both in the remainder of the song and the rest of the album - is a confusing sprawl of experimentation, only occasionally punctured by enduring melody.

Much like sections of fellow Wisconsinian Bon Iver’s latest, eponymous LP, Garden Of Arms tries too hard; at its core is a set of well-written songs, but they are often difficult to discern through the overwhelming amount of experimentation. A lot of the techniques used during the recording come across as unnecessary, adding nothing of value to the songs. Peter Pisano and Brian Moen have already proven themselves to be good songwriters, but with this second album they inexplicably mask their abilities with random noises, layers, loops and reverb. One cannot help but feel that many of these songs would benefit from a return to the simple, stripped down vocals/guitar/drums set up of Inter-Be, especially songs as overblown as ‘Right Away’, ‘Cut A Hand’ and ‘Wheel’.

The band mysteriously describes Garden Of Arms as: “not so much a sound as a spirit”, but perhaps a more apt description for many of the songs would be “not so much a song as a sound” – it’s not that Garden Of Arms is unlikeable, but it’s been self-sabotaged with overproduction. The band’s description continues: “Garden Of Arms is a document that paints a vivid portrait of all the pain and beauty of growth.” This may be true, but at times it feels overgrown; the more the album progresses, the more you find yourself struggling to breathe, grasping at your belt for a machete to clear a path.

The band have certainly succeeded in making an ‘experimental’ album, but to what end? The draw of Peter Wolf Crier’s debut was its simplicity. It charmed you with its ragged honesty. It was unsure, but it was brave. And after each song ended on Garden Of Arms, I found myself hoping the next one would be a return to the loveable, lo-fi pop of Inter-Be, songs such as the superb ‘Crutch and Cane’ and ‘Down Down Down’.

Ultimately, Garden Of Arms does just manage to stay the right side of introspective, never fully collapsing under the weight of its over-thought production. There are three moments when Pisano and Mohen seem to forget to experiment, stop over-thinking and simply have fun making great songs: ‘Settling It Off’, ‘Loud Enough To Know’ and ‘Never Meant To Love You’. However, you leave the album with these brightest moments niggling away in the back of your mind, teasing, boasting of something brilliant that could have been but was never fully realised.