Much like new labelmate Fleet Foxes, Brooklyn's Death Vessel pushes vocals and lyrics straight to the forefront: Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us, the band's second album, is more about singing than anything else. Frontman Joel Thibodeau, whose androgynous, pre-pubescent pipes nod to the honeysuckle-and-critters whimsy of Joanna Newsom, trills about vowels, goldenrod, and "remnant fauna" (it's helpful to presume the album's title, a line from "Obadiah In Oblivion," is self-effacing), and his high, helium-heady warbles are—much like Newsom's—deeply disconcerting on first spin. But Death Vessel ultimately transcends rote freak-folk fancy; Thibodeau's bandmates kick up a compelling fuss (playing wine glasses, banjo, pump organ, mandolin, horns, shaker, railroad spikes, and "flukulele"), and Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us is strange and engaging, equal parts dulcet and dark.
Death Vessel's first full-length, 2005's Stay Close, was a louder, wonkier affair—Thibodeau has always had a penchant for twang, but he's less interested in dissonance and discord now. "Block My Eye" opens with gentle synth twitters before Thibodeau pipes up with his acoustic strums: "My throat hurts, not from yelling but from holding back," he sings, sounding resigned. "Bruno's Torso" swells and recedes, offering up a rare electric guitar solo, while the campfire-ready "Fences Around Field" sounds like it could be plucked from The Art Of Field Recording. It's hard to holler along with Thibodeau—unless you're, say, 10—but Death Vessel just might reignite a latent interest in glee club.