Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eight And A Half: "Eight And A Half" (album review)

It's a shame when a beloved band breaks up.  However, as they say when one door closes another one opens.

In this case the door that opened is the Toronto-based Eight And A Half.  The band is the new project from Justin Peroff (formerly of Broken Social Scene), and Dave Hamelin and Liam O'Neil (previously of The Stills).  The group release their self-titled debut full length on April 10th.

Dreamy and textured is the aura for this record.  That tone is set with the opening instrumental "When I Was Twenty Nine", a track that twinkles as it cascades over you.

The lead single "Scissors" features restrained vocals that float above a methodically hypnotic electronic arrangement.  "Walked Into Diazepene" settles into a groove that will have you in a head-bopping trance-like state.

Eight And A Half manages to keep the sound fresh and engaging.  This is a style that has a tendency to become grating over the course of an entire album.  The band avoids that trap by adding dynamic swings, such as the soaring "Oh, My Head".  Elsewhere "Go Ego" peculates during the verses before bursting out for the unorthodox yet catchy chorus.

It's not all nebulous, ethereal 'mood' music.  An element of rock creeps in to "Two Points" as the vocals attempt to pull away from the reins of the arrangements in a delightfully tense struggle.  "Took A Train To India" pairs a melodic synthetic string sound with garage rock-style percussion.

In avoiding the traps of a genre that can be iffy, Eight And A Half manage to produce a record that takes a these musicians in a completely different direction from their previous bands.  That's not a bad thing at all.

Best tracks: ""Go Ego", "Took A Train To India"

Track listing for Eight And A Half:
  • When I Was Twenty Nine
  • Scissors
  • Go Ego
  • The Turn Around
  • Took A Train To India
  • Wait Up
  • Two Points
  • Walked Into Diazepene
  • Oh, My Head
  • My Forevers

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