Philadelphia's own chill masters Vacationer are back with their sophomore studio release titled Relief. The follow up to 2012's Gone finds the indie-pop masterminds at it again with a soothing and captivating collection of tunes that hits at a different angle than its predecessor and hinges on its ability to weave unheralded magic and beauty out of such relaxing and captivating music that is unlike anything else out there.
We start matters off with "Stay", a retro fitted, compact tune complete with the masterful lead vocal work of Kenny Vasoli who has an innate ability to throw himself completely into song and provide an emotional backdrop for the listener to come and join him on his quest for the ultimate relaxation kick that is coming to fruition quite strongly on this brilliant track heard here. "Paradise Waiting" starts out with a neat throwback keyboard loop brought forth by the incredible Michael Mullin who contributes a great deal to the band's arsenal that has a multi faceted and layered structure that are interdependent on one another's song structure that it sort of functions as a symbiotic relationship between the performer and listener that is wholly unique, especially to this group. "Heavenly" brings it down a couple of notches with more intricate keyboard settings, but taken to a much higher degree with Kenny's vocals once again soaring to new heights never deemed possible and putting this album on a much higher pedestal than their debut. My favorite track off the album is the spectacular "Shining", a top notch, impeccable track with dynamic instrumentation and an undeniable, high energy onset that reels you in instantaneously with Kenny's vocals cooing in the breeze that make you fall in love with the group immediately and appreciate them that much more for everything it is that they do and what they make you feel. "In The Grass" is an indelible, jaw dropping track with varying degrees of musical intensity and the exquisite drumwork of Ryan Zimmaro, who adds a great deal of musical sophistication that couldn't possibly be duplicated by anyone else on this planet or any other.
The second half features "Vision", a song that starts out with a jungle like flute solo that really transports you into the heart of record and into the band's dynamic that is constantly unfolding and taking shape right before your very eyes and ears and is something truly magical that needs to be cherished and appreciated with a clear and open mind. We segue way into "The Wild Life", the first track released from the album that is a more free form composition where anything goes and the band members can let loose and do their own thing, where in the end it all comes together in spectacular fashion. Things begin to wind down on "Go Anywhere", a serene and beautiful track that has more toned down and refined musical elements than the prior compositions, and gives us a chance to take a breather and look back on what we've experienced thus far. "Onward & Upward" ends it all here with a synth heavy interlude that culminates with an intersecting musical bridge of sorts that brings together everything we've encountered, and translate it into a language that each of us can easily comprehend and apply specifically to our own lives. I've covered this group from the very beginning, and were first featured as an Artist Spotlight back in October 2011 (which is the most viewed article in the history of this site) where they have grown immensely into a collective that really pours all of their passion and love into something that is truly worth doing, and have completely altered my perception of what is true and honest about music and definitely hold a special place in my heart as far as I'm concerned.
All in all a terrific second round of music from Vacationer, who do an excellent job of not following the template from the first record and adhering to a formula that is more simplistic in nature and doesn't follow any rules or specifications whatsoever. Highly recommended!
In The Grass
The Wild Life
Onward & Upward