Missed Connection - Safari Room Creates Sonic Brilliance Through Isolation and Grief on Complex House Plants

4.8 out of 5 stars

The Nashville-based band Safari Room put out their 2nd album Complex House Plants in May of this year, and I just recently found out about it.

Needless to say, the fact that I am post facto writing about the album shows that it is worth the effort for you to listen to it.

I struggled to find some contemporary bands to compare to Safari Room at first, but one band kept coming back to me throughout, and that was The Dear Hunter (not a super well-known band, but for those who know of them, they are great).

The band consists of Alec Koukol (songwriter / lead vocalist / guitarist), Chris Collier (guitar) and Austin Drewry (drums).

Koukol actually reached out to us about their album after learning about us through a mutual acquaintance in The Dreaded Laramie, and I am glad he did, because Safari Room is increasingly becoming more and more one of my favorite new bands - we even sponsor their band now!

But let me get back to the album, because it is worth a long talk, but I will try to make it a bit brief so as not to spoil it entirely.

The first thing I want to mention is that for an unsigned band, the production, mixing and mastering is fantastic.

The album starts with the song “Small Victories” which starts out with a bit of staccato guitar and vocals that lead into a sweetly melodic bridge which then goes straight into a rocking ass riff that is used for the chorus. 

The lyrics of all the songs seem incredibly personal and intimate with moments explained emotionally backed by music that always seems to fit the weight of the song.

Not all of Safari Room’s songs have the heavy rock riffs like the first song, but when they come, they are a firestorm of awesomeness.

A good example of Safari Room’s overall sound comes with the second song “Best of Me” which is a song reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen-era rock music, but with a modern twist to make it feel more indie but also more apt for modern radio at the same time.

The band says this about the album: 

Complex House Plants is about coming together in the face of adversity and finding self-love. The album was written and recorded between March 2020 and July 2021, a significantly more challenging time than any of us could have fathomed. Through the process of recording, Safari Room’s spirit was rejuvenated and, despite being less connected than ever, the band had never felt closer in music and to the basis of Safari Room’s existence: human connection

You can definitely feel it in songs like “Best of Me” for sure.

I feel like their music is as easily listened to in a room full of people at a bar or alone in your car. It’s incredibly detailed and meaningful but also not so intricate that it distracts you from doing what you are doing.

I definitely have a few favorites on the album, but I sincerely don’t know the degree by which I prefer some of the songs over others, because they are all so damn good.

It Just Takes Time” has one of my favorite choruses on the album. Koukol has such a smooth voice that easily cascades over the music and simultaneously makes you want to dance and shed a tear. 

I think probably the most unique and one of my favorites on the album is “Ikwyt” (aka I Know What You Think or I Know What You’re Thinking…both phrases are used in the song) as it starts with some horns and drums instead of being guitar led.

It’s definitely a bit more upbeat and “dancey” than most of the songs because of the horns, but the song is also a long build that gets a bit loose around the 2 minute mark. It’s definitely a song reminiscent of some of the jazzy rock that comes out of New Orleans (think Harry Connick Jr., for example).

The Historian” is a self-reflective song that ebbs and flows between lulling verses and swelling choruses. 

The song “Your City Doesn’t Love You” sits pretty heavy on me as it is pretty much how I felt about packing up and moving out of the town I grew up in. It’s okay though, because I never really loved my hometown anyway. Ha ha

One of the coolest drum tracks on the album comes in “Speak Slower” when Drewry gets all syncopated in the rhythm of the song.

Another song I really dig on this album is the song “Garden Talker” (see the garden pun I did there?). It’s a piano-heavy song that questions the thoughts of the subject in the song who is being surveilled by the speaker. 

The song could easily draw comparisons to Coldplay with its soulful splendor, and just as you think it might fade out, the song explodes into a supernova of sound.

I would say that this is probably my overall favorite song on the album just for the sheer power of it.

The 11-song album ends on “Myths” which is a bit of a cold song in terms of both the content and the sound behind it. I honestly just imagine the song being written while sitting on a back porch in the middle of winter or having come up with the idea while waiting on a corner freezing your butt off. It just gives that vibe.

I mean that with high praise too. It feels like it is meant to, I think.

Every so often, we miss a new album release as there are literally hundreds of albums that come out each year. It’s hard to catch them all unless you are paying very close attention. In times like this, we try to go back on what fell through the cracks. These are the “missed connections” that we try to follow up.