Categorizing Espers under "folk" reduces the spooky wonder that the psyched-out group from Philadelphia manages to cull from an eclectic menagerie of instruments, from twelve-string guitars to cup gongs to a "Doric transistorised organ." While much of the band's psych-folk prettiness was already laid out on its self-titled debut, II expands its sound with three additional members, more balanced arrangements, and tighter melodies. The album-opening "Dead Queen" establishes Espers' new focus on melody: Its eerie mood is present as always, as are the wispy vocal harmonies that weave between lines of fermented violins and gently plucked guitars. The album's highlight track "Dead King" starts as a recognizably folk number with flutes and breathy female vocals, but simmering organs quickly sweep aside the traditional as the song climaxes into a psychedelic swirl. Serious folk, these Espers.
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