REVIEW ROUND-UP: Mint Green, Valleyheart, orphantwin

Mint Green sat in front of a window on a green, plant-filled wall, with images of more plants, fruit and animals around them as a border

Mint Green

All Girls Go To Heaven

It’s noteworthy how much aesthetic focus can be attributed to Mint Green’s All Girls Go To Heaven. On the artwork and its accompanying imagery, there’s stark juxtaposition between dark greens, the more vibrant colours emerging from it, and the white outfits worn by the band, and there’s a feeling of natural lavishness that can stem from that. Further, it’s embodied so well in the album itself; it still fits in the DIY indie-rock space, but with a gloss and sparkle that ultimately makes Mint Green stand out in way that plenty others won’t. The guitar tone is above all else in that regard, dappled in light to really emphasise its delicacy, especially when nestled behind some genuinely spellbinding vocal harmonies. It’s one part of the tightness that Mint Green bring, between how meticulously crafted the pop melodies are on Body Language and Trying, and the suppleness in the bass and percussion that’s the ideal framework for them to rest on. It’s all just self-evidently strong rather than wearing a flashiness on its sleeve, and that can have a lot of merit here. Mint Green do end up playing to a set crop of tones throughout because of it, but at no point do they feel hemmed in, or as if that’s outside of their own volition. They can get a little more explicitly rock-oriented like on Ready and Whatever Happens and their more pronounced flourishes of guitars, and it’s evident that that approach is best for a bit of spice within this overall formula. Mint Green work the strongest when they embrace pop brightness and light, most unequivocally in the contributions of vocalist Ronnica and a clarion, exquisite timbre that’s definitely cut back some indie woolliness and is all the better for it. Added into the dreamlike musical tableaux and lyrical themes that touch on similar notions of the self and existence, it makes for a pretty interesting little package that certainly feels like something fresh. Mint Green ultimately end up as a band for whom a written description doesn’t do them the most justice; it’s worth taking the time to enjoy and soak into, because that’s where the album’s greatest strengths are revealed.


For fans of: Kississippi, Camp Cope, Diet Cig

‘All Girls Go To Heaven’ by Mint Green is released on 3rd June on Pure Noise Records.

A clock on a wall with plant-covered wallpaper on it. The numbers on the clock have been replaced with images of birds


Heal My Head

Even if they weren’t signed to Tooth & Nail, Valleyheart would still feel like a Christian rock band. That’s the impression they give off anyway, in a sound that finds pillowy pop-rock imbued with touches of indie-rock and folk, and in Kevin Klein, the sort of hushed vocalist that you wouldn’t affix the propensity to rock out to. And yes, while all of that will generally be taken in the most pejorative sense imaginable, there’s something about Heal My Head that works, or at the very least, comes across as likable. The sound and production is definitely its strongest suit, with how gauzy and lush it sounds in the jangling guitars and generally easygoing tempos. At its best, there are tracks like Miracle and Warning Signs that have their more defined melodies, and while Valleyheart are by no means high-octane, they’ve got more propulsion to them. On the flipside though, that opens up Heal My Head’s primary weakness, namely how easily this can all run together, and to what extent that can make the album drag. It’s all well-balanced and clear in sound, sure, but without a lot to define individual songs or really shape the album beyond pleasantly drifting by, any longevity is severely limited. Granted, that can run a bit deeper than surface-level presentation, given that Valleyheart aren’t drilling in with the most pertinent lyrical edge you’ve ever heard, nor are they really trying to pretend that they are. At least with Klein’s voice, it fits an airy, positive mood that runs all the way through and that can help somewhat, but it’s not particularly galvanising. This is still an album that’s very aware of what it’s trying to achieve and most likely of who its audience is, and that’ll likely satisfy said demographic. For anyone outside though, it’s a more open question; if you’re prone to something a bit softer, there’s some appeal to be found here, but otherwise, there isn’t much else to say.


For fans of: Mae, Copeland, From Indian Lakes

‘Heal My Head’ by Valleyheart is released on 3rd June on Pure Noise Records.

A child wearing a clown outfit and a mask of a woman’s face


Future Classic

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Future Classic was simply a Norma Jean release, given the band’s members, the additional personnel, the sound, the label, the artwork… Basically, the band that orphantwin spawned from have maintained a healthy influence on this side-project. That said, there are worse ways to for Cory Brandan and Matthew Putnam to pull off their pandemic-era venture, for a quick EP influenced by them as brothers while still being creatively satisfying to hear. That’s predominantly visible when they rest in Thrice-esque post-hardcore like Headphones Or Die and llovvlless, in the treacle-thick churn of the guitars and palpable atmosphere that’s wonderfully realised in how enigmatic it is. It’s a great showcase of Brandan’s clean vocals and the snarl that adds even more tension. It also means that the more traditionally Norma Jean-style forays into metalcore that would be better in a vacuum have a tougher hill to climb; where a track like Deathsurf has punch and a barely-restrained electricity in how it jolts and surges by, it can feel more like a repurposed moment than its own thing. That’d be the best advice for orphantwin going forward, to build on the fresher, more independent ideas they have here, but that’s not to say that Future Classic really fumbles much. Sure, the relatively interpretive lyrical style is indicative of side-project that’s meant to be a bit looser, though that can still feed into the elasticity of it all on a wider creative path. As clear as the spectre of Norma Jean is peripherally, there’s a sense of orphantwin as something of an outlet, as underlined by the solemn alt-rock closer Hominy. The fact that it’s all well-mixed and constructed rather than being just a tossed-out space-filler is appreciated too; there’s a higher overall baseline of quality that does a lot in its favour. It ends up a point where it’d be good to see more from orphantwin going forward, if it could opt in as a companion act to Norma Jean rather than anything to overtake or overlap with them too much. Just an opportunity to get more of this in the future would go a fair distance.


For fans of: Norma Jean, Thrice, Greyhaven

‘Future Classic’ by orphantwin is released on 3rd June on Solid State Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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