Two years ago, Jeremy Earl and Jarvis Taveniere, two of the main members of Woods throughout its changing lineup, sat down with Noisey for an interview before their eighth album, With Light and with Love, released April 15, 2014. The interview was titled “Do Not Call Woods, A Bunch of Smelly Hippies,” but even after hearing the album, that’s really still what I had thought of them. I mean, I wouldn’t actually think they were hippies, but they made the kind of indie-folk music praised by Pitchfork back in 2009-2010 that never appealed to me.
Now two years later, I was going to pass on this record. I remember thinking, “it’s their ninth record and I’ve never been in love with them, maybe I’ll just skip this one,” and whether it was the record’s cool name or the cover that came with it, I ended up listening to it anyway. It’s probably one of the few times that an album cover made me want to hear their music. Sure, I had already known of them and heard their previous work, but there was something different about this cover and more in your face then say the mountain ranges of Songs of Shame. I don’t know why but from the album cover alone I knew I was going to like this record. It’s something I’ll never be able to explain, but I was right.
City Sun Eater in the River of Light is unlike any Woods album we’ve heard yet. They remind me of the EL VY album a bit, in just that it’s a genre akin to something like spooky lo-fi campfire indie-rock. If there was one word I never used to describe Woods before hearing “Sun City Creeps,” it was “groove,” and boy did they prove me wrong this time around. “Sun City Creeps” is a jam, and the bass and drums on this record really came up since With Light and with Love.
Most of that is probably due to their fascination with Jackson 5 and Motown following With Light and with Love, as they said in an interview with Aquarium Drunkard. They followed that Motown idea to heart though, and I think that City Sun Eater in the River of Light has the most “hits” of any of their records. The influences are clearly there too, whether or not they’re accurate or not, but “Morning Light” couldn’t sound more like a Shins song if they tried. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is like if Woods just decided to write music that erupts the indie band nostalgia portion of your brain. I might have no idea what “City Sun Eater in the River of Light” means, or even sometimes what the song is about, but I enjoyed the whole experience of the record, and that’s all that really matters.