Release Date: Jan 29, 2008
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
If the four-year break since Love And Distance seems excessive, it wasn’t because Brandon Summer and Benjamin Weikel were dicking around their hometown of Portland, self-indulgently crafting this non-epic follow-up. Summers’s hard-living ways on tour led to a near total shutdown of his voice, and after a Rocky-like routine of reconditioning, the electro-pop duo return stronger and more on target. It’s brilliant news for Sup Pop, who’d love nothing more than to fill their aching Postal Service void and get those TV soundtrack deals renewed.
On 2004's Love and Distance, frontman Brandon Summers found his voice and pushed it the forefront of his band's swirling sound. The album was a step forward for the Helio Sequence, but it was still a haphazard move, one that found Summers yelping and shouting in an attempt to deliver a memorable performance. The frontman had an even tougher time on the road, where a string of shows steadily whittled his voice down to a raspy fraction of its original power.
Time passes quickly, but when four years elapse between albums, there's really no telling what changes time may have wrought. Following 2004's Love and Distance, touring – and the inevitable hard living that comes with it – took their toll on The Helio Sequence’s Brandon Summers, forcing him to take a palliative vow of silence for several months. Since that spell, a revived Summers and percussionist Benjamin Weikel dug in and put their energy to work, resulting in the 10 songs on Keep Your Eyes Ahead.
The songwriting and musicianship on display by this Portland duo reveal two staggeringly talented artists. Unfortunately, Keep Your Eyes Ahead, the pair's fourth album, suffers from multiple personality disorder. It's a lushly sensitive indie-rock disc, jangly alterna-rock CD, and edgy Americana platter all in one uneasy mix. The good: "Can't Say No," energetic, earnest, and accented with an endearingly choppy vocal syntax.