Release Date: Jul 23, 2013
Record label: Glass Note
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Folk
Half Moon Run's biography makes great play of the fact that the four Montreal musicians barely knew each other when they started this album, and even now aren't close friends. Improbably, keeping each other at arm's length has yielded a fine debut. The delicate alt-rock ecosystem they've created is reminiscent of Alt-J's An Awesome Wave, wherein each player treads lightly, rhythms are complex and vocal harmonies are precision-cut.
Richly detailed, alternately rugged and studio slick, the airy and expressive debut album from Montreal's Half Moon Run is caught somewhere between the pastoral, harmony-laden northwoods folk of Fleet Foxes, the hazy classic rock meanderings of Band of Horses, and the soulful midnight din of Alt-J and Jeff Buckley. Formed via a craigslist ad, the band's internal anonymity is hardly relative with regard to its cohesiveness, as each track on the brainy yet intuitive Dark Eyes sounds like the sum of its parts, but there is enough space between those parts to suggest a sort of unspoken agreement to avoid any sort of showboating. This predilection for musical mindfulness is best exemplified by album opener "Full Circle," a carefully tiered, slow-burn brooder that churns along like a river swollen with menace, and then manages to explode without any sort of real violence.
Released in Canada last year, this debut from the Montreal four-piece has been remixed and remastered, with new song ‘Unofferable’ added for its UK release. It’s glossier now, but it’s the quality of the songs that makes the album stand out. ‘Dark Eyes’ remains a quietly stunning record full of the sort of harmonies that Band Of Horses, whom HMR most closely resemble, have based a career around.Opener ‘Full Circle’ is reminiscent of Fleet Foxes – all pretty arpeggios and layered arrangements, gradually building to something more substantial.
With their spidery guitars and precise harmonies, Montreal quartet Half Moon Run are, at least on paper, the quintessential indie-rock outfit of their age – one part Fleet Foxes to two parts Arcade Fire. Certainly their debut album's opener, Full Circle, and the sparse Unofferable wouldn't shame either band, singer Devon Portielje's quivering voice echoing Jeff Buckley while the music underlines that sometimes less is more. Such drama, though, is absent from Dark Eyes' second half, most of which could have been crafted in the 90s and, for all Portielje's efforts, is too sterile to excite.