A Great Big Pile of Leaves’ second full-length picks up pretty much exactly where they left off with 2010’s Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? With their new album, titled You’re Always on My Mind, the band has taken their sound and shaved off the edges. They’ve refined the groovy sound that has defined their past releases and created exactly the album they needed to make. Singer Pete Weiland’s unique voice floats on top of the danceable riffs and a smooth beat ties it all together. The band’s music is a type of laid back indie pop, the kind of music that reminds you of your childhood. Though overall it’s good, the music on You’re Always on My Mind becomes a little samey and slow-moving at times. Yet it is still the best jumping-off point for listeners who are new to A Great Big Pile of Leaves.
The album starts off with group vocals doing “Oooo’s” that become the basis of the rest the song entitled “Snack Attack.” This track is a fairly good intro to the band (and album). It showcases their head-bobbing indie sound and poppy demeanor. As found on the rest of the record, the guitar riffs are fairly technical but they sound so smooth that it’s hard to notice. The rhythm section pulls it all together and makes the songs sound cohesive as Weiland’s voice flows over the sound and mellows out the whole ensemble. This musical layout makes up the band’s sound and it works well for them.
On this record the band finds themselves fairly experienced. With one album and a whole boatload of EPs behind them, You’re Always on My Mind is made by a group that knows what it’s doing. The songs are tighter and better written. They’re more cohesive and just sound better than most of what’s on Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? The addition of new band member Matt Fazzi (ex-Taking Back Sunday) adds to this, allowing them to get a different influence in the songwriting. And with guest vocals by Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack, it shows that some big names are loving this band.
The one downfall of You’re Always on My Mind is inherent in the band – Weiland’s vocals. They’re good, but they’re incredibly mellow. So mellow that it sometimes brings down the energy the instrumentals are creating. His voice is a little deeper than most singers and glides lightly over the rest of the music. It creates a sound that’s smooth as butter even when the music prompts powerful vocals and vicious attacks. This, however, does not ruin the music, it merely dampens some areas.
In general, A Great Big Pile of Leaves has grown their sound on the new record. It’s not become more mature, it’s become more fun. They’ve taken everything good about their older material and used it to create an even better version of themselves. Though their songs tend to blend at some points, they’re more memorable than before. It’s in the band’s formulaic nature to sound samey at points, but that doesn’t stop them from making fun, poppy indie rock.