By Sam Mosher, E23 Reporter

It’s been a tumultuous period for folk-pop band The Head and the Heart. The six-member band has been touring for four straight years, starting before the release of their 2013 album “Let’s Be Still,” and has since relocated from their original hometown of Seattle to Los Angeles. However, that’s not the only change the band has encountered.

Josiah Johnson, one of the band’s two main vocalists, has spent the last six months in rehab battling drug addiction. This has caused him to significantly reduce his role as songwriter to just one track on the group’s new album “Signs of Light” and is not joining the band on their new tour. As one of the group’s original songwriters, Johnson’s hiatus is certainly a big creative loss. “Signs of Light” also marks the band’s major label debut, moving from Sub Pop to Warner Bros. Records.

So what does this mean for the band? Produced, radio-focused pop tracks. While these words may sound negative, The Head and the Heart still manages to hold on to most of its original soul that won over so many fans. Aptly-titled “Signs of Light” is a record about hope.

Tracks like “Library Magic” have vocalists Jonathan Russell and Charity Thielen singing “There will always be better days” in a comforting harmony. The band’s positive energy and optimism, especially in such a difficult time in their history, shines as the album’s best attribute.

When it comes to the new release’s sound, The Head and the Heart has clearly sacrificed much of its folk roots for pop tunes. While the band is still definitely recognizable in its music, lead single “All We Ever Knew” and other tracks like “Turn It Around” share more similarities with bands like The Goo Goo Dolls than most folk outlets. Common radio tactics like repetitive choruses and sign-along “la-la’s” are also found in multiple songs like the aforementioned “All We Ever Knew.”

Nonetheless, the band has increased its use of electric guitars, and this proves to be a positive change, adding energy to tracks like “Rhythm & Blues.” Finally, it wouldn’t be a Head and the Heart album without some piano pop, which shines in the Johnson-penned closer, “Signs of Light.”

While The Head and the Heart’s latest effort may not be their strongest to date, the band retains much of their emotion and “heart,” despite the band’s numerous recent changes. The big label production most certainly sounds bigger and more expensive, and although this does not make every song better, the new electric guitars are a great addition.

Overall, “Signs of Light” does well in its mission to bring hope to pop music, even if that means trading the band’s folk roots in the process. With that resonant emotion at its core, this album is still worth a listen.

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