Thursday 14 December 2017

Music: Halves * * * *

It Goes and Goes (Forever and Ever)

John Meagher

John Meagher

What a year it's been for domestic music. I can't remember another one as impressive as this, what with such disparate names as Two Door Cinema Club, Villagers, Imelda May, Strands, Cathy Davey and O Emperor shining brightly. Now, here's another contender for Irish album of the year.

Halves have been attracting critical attention for quite some time and this debut album -- a long time in the making -- does not disappoint. Blending post-rock stylings with Sigur Ros-like atmospherics, this is a slow-burning collection with ambitious arrangements and unexpected curveballs.

It's a collection that deserves that most over-used muso term -- "haunting" -- and several songs, especially Don't Send Your Kids to the Lakes, are eerie and unsettling. Perhaps its Halloween release is no mere coincidence. This feeling is reflected on the accompanying artwork, which -- like their previous EPs -- is beautifully packaged.

Such is the strength in depth here that it's hard to believe it's the trio's first album. Existing fans will be familiar with Haunt Me While I'm Drowsy, one of the album's high water marks, while the memorable Growing & Glow casts its spell from the off.

Recorded late last year in the Montreal studio of acclaimed instrumentalists Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and with that band's Efrim Menuck at the control desk, contributors include Stars/Broken Social Scene vocalist Amy Millan, rising Waterford singer Katie Kim, Canadian harpist Elaine Kelly-Canning and a 27-member strong Kilkenny choir. What that all adds up to is a meticulously produced album, bursting with ideas.

Halves launch this album with a live performance in Dublin's Workman's Club tomorrow.

Burn it: Don't Send Your Kids to the Lakes; Growing and Glow

Irish Independent

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