1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 401

Dark Eyes, by Half Moon Run
Suggested by Mark Davis

It’s odd, the human brain.

I’ve listened to Dark Eyes, by Half Moon Run, twice now. I’ve enjoyed it both times, and  – spoilers – it’ll get a decent score at the end of this review. But there’s something about it that I can’t shake from my head.

First, let’s go through the pleasantries. Half Moon Run are a Canadian Indie Folk Rock outfit, and Dark Eyes is their debut release in a career of three albums thus far. They’ve had a modicum of success in their homeland, but haven’t troubled the charts with anything more than a cheeky finger near the bottom. The phrase “Platinum in Canada” is equal parts compliment and insult in the grand scheme of things.

Musically, there’s a concentration on atmospherics throughout the twelve tracks on this album. The songs brood rather than rock out, in the most part, but while such ambience has been a traditional turn-off for me in the past, there’s something more fulsome and gravid about this sound than I’ve encountered in the past. And there are upbeat songs too! It’s not all swollen and emotive.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this album, and of this band, is their layered percussion. There are two drummers at play here, and it shows, as the sound that they produce is intriguing without being obtrusive. Most songs contain beautiful guitar or piano refrains, and all have deft and expert vocals, high pitched but strong, harmonious and sensitive and soft and intense.

As for songs, I’m hard pressed to point to any weakness at all. My standout is likely the opener Full Circle, fresh from the Assassins Creed soundtrack, which starts small and intimate with a pleasant picked guitar and wonderful counterpoint vocals before we add some forceful tribal drumming. The song builds swiftly into a veritable wall of guitars, before paring back to the initial bones until the song, well, turns full circle. Other tracks of excellence include the swirling No More Losing The War, with its uneasy emotion, and the biting Drug You, with its trilling and twittering guitar and its rattling pace.

I like it. It’s a decent 8/10 album. What’s the problem?

My issue is… it sounds like something else. And I don’t know what it is.

This shouldn’t be an issue, but as I’m now in the business of Reviewing Music, I find it rather limiting that I can’t find the words to explain my thoughts. In case you’re unaware, most album reviewers don’t write skits involving Snoop Dogg stealing Toblerones, or constantly denigrate Mick Hucknall, or talk about their X Factor audition, or repeatedly tell Marillion to f**k off. Most album reviewers know enough about music to allow them to actually tell you about the music. I’ve made a decent fist of it before, but today my brain won’t play along.

So this sounds like something. Something good. Something I like. But something I can’t bloody articulate. The internet has given me some soundalikes, but they mean nothing to me.

Please, for my peace of mind, go listen to a track or two and sound off on any similarities you may find in the comments, because it’s legitimately winding me up.

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