By Corey Sustarich
Flight Habit’s first album, Glorified Hill Myna, is beautiful in its simplicity and smart in its reservation. There is no attempt at over-explaining or complicating these songs. The parts of each one are laid bare and stacked to create an ethereal ten song album full with sincerity. Tim Schmied, Josh Mackie, Zack Robbins, and Sean Hallock make up Flight Habit, all of which are related to other impressive Philly bands including DARK MTNS, Gunk, Sandcastle, and more.
Glorified Hill Myna is ten songs left naked enough to be naturally beautiful and revealing. The opening song, “On Track,” starts calm and undulating only to crash into one of the many gorgeous melodies from this album, back to crescendo and a soft end. There’s an intense forward motion to these songs despite their calm outer shell. The drums sit in the middle of the mix and gently thrust them forward to the next beautiful strum, vocal melody, distant guitar track or atmospheric sound. The last minute of “Incarnation” alone is enough to make this album worth a listen. That three note guitar riff makes this song. It’s so simple and it’s been played a thousand times, but I’ll be damned if those notes aren’t the condensed version of the very moment they were conjuring.
Track three, “Holiday,” gets right to the point, its lyrics: “Chalk your mood up to a lack of omega-3’s and vitamin D and sitting around / Maybe somewhere south of here treating skin with aloe v you find some type of peace.” It’s a slow bounce. The distant guitars groan pretty. Tiny staccato notes lead into a really satisfying build driven by a much anticipated change in the drumbeat during the last thirty seconds.
“Spit Shine" has an impressive spread of guitar tones, from a thick clean reverb to ethereal chorus to sustained fuzz. The introductory lyrics of this song are also the name of the band which could explain its electric clamor. The dynamics grow to the precipice of minute two. The climax pulls itself back into the intro riff and fades for the next track. Running in at just over two minutes, “Collection,” is two-thirds windy progression, one-third simple stepped guitar line folded neatly into a verse of church-like vocals. Much like the last moments of “Incarnation,” I wait with anticipation for the last part to punctuate its ending.
The sixth track, “The Pit,” coolly walks its way through a bout of depression. A huge cowboy chord backed by an acoustic followed by soft undulating vocals gives this song qualities of Neil Young. “Who Told You” is the banger on this album. There’s a serious sense of purpose behind the bass riff, whirling melody and rolling drums. Confident in his discontent and with a sense of clarity the vocal melody sings: “Trepidation makes its stand shaking like a branch / When you could go anywhere choose to hole up with your parents / What if they weren’t there? Who told you they care? / Who told you that you have to understand?”
One catchy section after another builds and builds into a colossal beautiful thing that kneels down into yet another great guitar track. It starts and ends with the same chord and ambient sound which makes repeating it over and over again very euphonious. “Brother” bobs with its heavy downbeat through low clouds of bass and flashes of bright guitar. Little atmospheric howls fill the air between the heavy falls of percussion. Near the middle the lyrics mutter a loving concession, “Even when it gets cold you like the sound of AC / I don’t mind if it helps ya sleep.” The end is a cacophony of chirping feedback, thick guitar, and what sounds like sustained notes from a cello.
“Gone Away” is the one alone. It’s a voice and a guitar. The strings scratch along to the words while the vocal melody of the chorus tapers its edges with high notes that plead honestly. This song is laid bare with great sadness and purpose. “Arc,” the final track, is a cloud of chorus that only lasts for a wispy minute. There are no drums. In their stead are gorgeous reversed notes that swirl around the vocal melody. I repeat this one for the way he sings: “Remember the faces and all the places and complications weren’t / Walking through the city, sun in our eyes and swinging on the winter arc”
Each song furthers this band’s sound by creating a wonderful amalgamation of its four members. There’s balance, patience, confidence, and openness inside each song and if this album is indicative of their next release then I eagerly wait for more.