Mint Julep: Save Your Season
Village Green

Listeners accustomed to hearing the understated piano music and refined electronica Keith Kenniff produces under his respective Goldmund and Helios aliases will be in for a bit of a surprise when they hear Save Your Season, the sophomore effort from Mint Julep, the Portland, Oregon-based outfit featuring Kenniff and wife Hollie. The album builds on the sound the two developed on their 2008 limited-release album, Songs About Snow, which can be heard in retrospect as a bit of a trial run for the more fully developed and realized sound captured on Save Your Season. Don't think of Mint Julep as some modern-day Wings, either, as Hollie's obviously no regrettable Linda McCartney add-on but instead an integral component of the Mint Julep persona.

The brief instrumental opener, “Chasing the Wind Catching the Shadows,” could pass for a rather more extroverted Helios track but what comes after couldn't possibly be mistaken for a Kenniff solo piece, what with Hollie's crystalline vocals positioning themselves so prominently. Yep, it's dreampop alright (shoegaze if you prefer), but Mint Julep does it just about as well as anybody. All the trademark elements are here—think blinding radiance, distorted guitars, vibrant keyboards, exuberant hooks, robust beats, and soaring choruses, with all of it built into towering, multi-tiered arrangements.

Straying from the template somewhat, “Days Gone By” moves from a raw, fuzz-styled intro into a raucous, blissed-out swarm of shoegaze pop that's about as infectious and hummable as anything else on the album. Much of it is uptempo and extroverted in the extreme, with the title track and “To the Sea” both pitched at a deafening roar and with a beehive hum of guitars powering “Cherry Radio.” When “No Letting Go” brings the volume down slightly, one begins to hear Mint Julep as an outfit similar in style to Ms. John Soda—a not unwelcome development, given the missing-in-action status of that Stefanie Böhm-Michael Acher project. However one chooses to characterize it, Save Your Season gives listeners one more enriching and equally satisfying side of Keith Kenniff's artistry to sample.

January 2012