Ivan Campo have been releasing EPs of gentle folk pop for more than ten years now. They’ve very much hit upon a formula, and it’s a subtly winning one. Their latest EP, Season of the King, is led by single ‘The Bloodhound and the Fox’ which sums up this formula nicely. It’s apparently a story about the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and nemesis Moriarty, told from Moriarty’s point of view. In other hands this could become cloying, but their light touch renders it sweet, little more than a chiming guitar melody, tight harmonies and stripped back percussion. ‘Waking Bird’ sets the tone further, pitching them exactly halfway between traditional English folk and the Beatles‘ quieter moments.
The EP paints a picture of a band in no hurry. These songs might all work from a similar palette (and one that is hardly dissimilar from which the one their previous records draw), but there’s a certain craft on display. The detail in the production adds an impressive richness to these ostensibly simple songs, a brush of cymbal here, a whisper of tambourine there and the backing vocals that are so natural and fit so well that they can only be the result of a kind of psychic closeness. ‘Crome Yellow’ brings a sort of retro-futurism with its talk of “test tubes and helicopters” and keyboard melody echoing the vocal line and ‘Wind, Sand and Stars’, despite starting as plucked guitar and muttered vocal, grows into a tapestry of layered sound. These moments are what makes the songs more than the sum of their parts, and what makes Ivan Campo a quietly lovely proposition.