Best described as a vastly superior and more exciting Mumford and Sons, Half Moon Run combine the foundations of folk with that of indie rock to generate a surprisingly confident offering. At the very first listen I was indifferent to the record, but as the Canadian quartet sing ‘If it looks like it is, then it probably ain’t’, there is much more to this band than first meets ones ears.
Opener ‘Full Circle’ is like dipping your toe into the pool just to discover that it’s deeper than you had expected. Starting with a single acoustic guitar; Half Moon Run build on this with layers upon layers of little additions like vocal effects and electronics, to eventually create an opening with bold textures that gently entices you in. With all these different elements going on, there exists the possibility of being slightly overwhelmed by it all: at points it can become too much for the listener to bear.
However, there are moments where this sound mixing really works, for example, the vocals throughout ‘Call me in the afternoon’ blend and collect beautifully creating a wonderfully smooth tone. The guitar technique is also a joy to focus on, with the strings seamlessly vibrating into one another to provide a meaty background for the other electronic elements. Half Moon Run further succeeds in creating a calming and melancholic atmosphere; their songs are rich with a heady low octave which drifts and peaks subtly. Yet, the group are able to pick up the pace with intense numbers like ‘Drug You’ ringing with frantic keyboard melodies and echoed moaning, but still maintain a smooth transition throughout the record.
Other highlights like ‘She Wants to Know’ push rhythmic percussion and vocal harmonies together, while harbouring rumbling undertones of electric guitar and a polite splash of soul for good measure. The band really demonstrates their multi-instrumental capabilities to the full extreme, keeping each track diverse, if not in basic structure, but in their musical layout and make-up. From piano accompaniment, to electronic movements, to violin compositions, Half Moon Run experiment with every tool in their arsenal.
If depicted upon a chart, Dark Eyes would occasionally rise upwards and never really dip that significantly. The quality of music is fairly consistent, if at sometimes a little lacking in lyrical detail and bloated with one too many textures. Half Moon Run’s debut becomes a cave to venture further within to discover what the band is really capable of, and I’m pleased to report that I’m suitably impressed with my findings.