Verdict: 4 / 5
Alberta Cross has an interesting story as a band. Formed by an Englishman and a Scandinavian, they record in New York and imitate a definite American sound and influence. What they ended up creating on their latest album is a series of tracks as musically diverse as they themselves are, and as diverse as the America that has inspired them so.
From the time the first track started playing, the lead singer reminded me of Bon Iver, only with a greater variation in sound over time, although the similarities remain in some way or another. The structure of the album seems to have a ballad or anthem-styled song at the beginning, middle and end of the album, and with these large, grand numbers framing the album it provides pleasing gaps for the more genre-experimental songs in the remaining gaps. These anthems are Magnolia, starting the album on an upbeat level; Wastelands, which is definitely one of the catchiest tracks; and at the end with Bonfires, a soulful melodic ballad to close off the experience.
In-between these, tracks like Crate of Gold, and Money for the Weekend display a more frantic, energetic sound that feels like it could belong at any sort of party you could name. But there are also the slower, rhythmic tracks like Lay Down and Life Without Warning, which you will definitely find yourself keeping in beat with. These ones also demonstrate the global nature of the band, sometimes sounding very British indeed, or some strange combination of areas that somehow still works.
Songs of Patience is very enjoyable to listen to, and whether you hear or understand their lyrics the first time listening is debatable, although in my case it made me more likely to come back to them again and again. And it is one of the great delights of any poetic art to try and gleam your own meaning from it, and Alberta Cross certainly provide that opportunity.