Tom Emlyn (vocals/electric guitar/keyboards/harmonica/melodica/analog radio), Will Evans (bass), Emlyn Cai Hinton (sax/guitar/flute/clarinet/violin) and Jack Patrick (drums/cajon/egg/vibraslap/spring drum) are News from Nowhere. Apparently the band has been has been around for a while and already has a couple of albums out. Their latest ...and the human had half was written after an around-the-world backpacking trip and is about the line between dreams and reality.
The band plays indie rock in one form or another with some deviations which were quite surprising. They open with “Lost in a Dream” which is straightforward indie rock. With their clean, reverb-laced guitar I was reminded of the band Real Estate. It wasn’t just the guitar tone but the whole feel of the song. All things considered it is a good opener that is pretty catchy.
One of the highlights was the second track “Kathmandu.” The song has a playful rock vibe and has a great instrumental second half which has some noteworthy sax. “Stranded at The Border” was the song that made me wonder what type of vibe they were trying to paint. The song is atmospheric, hypnotic, ethereal and was a much more serious sounding song overall.
It was an odd juxtaposition from the first two songs that threw me off. The band goes back to sounding more like a band on “Coming up on Love” and has some of the best rocking on the album. “Odysseus” has a funky, jangly vibe to it and for some reason the inflection in his voice this time around reminded me of Morrissey. Next up is “Empire” which has a ’60s singer/songwriter quality.
“Moonlights” is the centerpiece at over seven-minutes long. The song feels more like a jam session than anything that came before. “Speaking in Tongues” is the closer which has way more energy and aggression than anything else on the album. It had a similar type of energy to the album They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top by Liars.
...and the human had half has some good arguably great songs on this album. The band was obviously ambitious but perhaps a little too ambitious. It seemed obvious to me that the band was trying to make each song distinct from the next. That’s a good thing for the most part but they seemed to be stretching a little far at times. It's a bit of a double-edged sword. What the songs gain in being distinct have to be weighed against how cohesive the album feels as a whole.
Overall, I wouldn't pass up this album. Despite feeling a little scattered the songs still shine and t when the band hits they really hit the bullseye.
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