Indie folk trio Little May weave breezily elaborate acoustic musicianship with fleecy vocal harmonies into a moody elegance that resembles a mix of First Aid Kit and Lord Huron. All self-taught musicians who attended the same high school, Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton formed the group in Sydney, Australia in 2012. They were playing music festivals and selling out headlining shows in Sydney by the following year, and releasing an eponymous EP in 2014. The new folk revival shows no sign of dissipating, but Little May are taking it somewhere fresh. Known for their dark tangle of raw lyrics, honest and haunting melodies and voices upon voices, this year Little May released their debut album 'For The Company'. It has a distinctive folk base built around acoustic guitar and close harmonies, but Little May whip up a very National-like intensity, almost undetected. 'The Shine Is Brighter At Night' in particular could almost be a cover, an insistent piano-led thrum with a repeated couplet ("Rest my eyes, I don't wanna see you/Rest my brain, I don't wanna know") that burrows in, mantra-like. It's a wonderful moment, familiar or not.
'Hide' is a little more traditional, with jaunty acoustic eventually working up into a gallop. The harmonies have a sensuous feel that also seeps into the resonant, string-caressed 'Cicadas' ("Why you on my mind again?") and the slow sad roll of 'Chemicals' ("Used to write about the freckles under your eyes"). Sometimes it seems as if the album can thrive on all this lush prettiness alone, but the steel shimmer of 'Seven Hours' breaks into an alarmingly (relatively) heavy, buzz-guitar chorus, a sign Little May can rock out when the mood changes.
In a neat and satisfying way, the album peaks in its final 30 seconds. Boardwalks pulls on layers, starting with a nagging bass that's joined by spry plucking and delicate exchange of voices, before trotting off with bird-like "oo-oo"s fluttering around the ears. It makes sense when you hear it. "We are not afraid of who we are," Field sings, expressing the confidence that flows through this captivating debut.