ALBUMS OF THE DECADE: ‘The Head and the Heart’

MMC Writers reflect on their favorite records of the 2010s.

Vibrant sweeping emotional upheavals give way to antithetical sepia-toned folk hymns. Your polished dimes and hard-earned crumpled dollars were well spent record store savings when it comes to The Head and the Heart’s eponymous 2011 debut. A brainstorm of clever, charmingly-written indie folk from The Head, this album bleeds alt-rock Americana from The Heart.

The Seattle outfit must be huge fans of the ampersand, because every element here has a contrasting element: male & female duets, melody-free verses & harmony driven choruses, simple whimsical piano & multi-instrumental fusillades of sound, light-hearted love themes & achingly emotional headaches of sentiment. You can’t overstate how balanced this album is.

In a time when style is everything, The Head and the Heart sets a tone with their introductory record better than most decade-hardened veterans. There’s something in this music that evokes mental images of polaroid photos, mason jars, fur-lined coats, fallen leaves, hardcover books, distressed wood, crocheted blankets and a lone acoustic guitar in a corner next to the record player spinning this five-star hipster delicacy. If you’re curled up in a quilt next to a Franklin stove with a cup of chai tea, you ought to be listening to this album.

Frankly, the music speaks for itself. Singles like the heart-wrenchingly lovely “Rivers and Roads” and the indie rhapsody “Down in the Valley” beg to be played over and over again in their delightful phrasing and pure character. “Lost in My Mind” and “Heaven Go Easy on Me” are remarkably earnest jams, contrasting lyrical elements in broodingly subliminal songs like “Honey Come Home.”

Warm merry love songs make your mind wander in hopeless romance as catchy strumming and easy-listening folk rock make your heart skip beats to stay in rhythm. This album is a rare, fulfilling treat for both of your emotional epicenters: The Head and The Heart.