To his credit, such familiarity doesn’t stop Francis for dressing up his soundscapes with the daydream swirl of urban alienation and angst, capturing the momentum that the song structure suggests in passing, with a hint of sunshine. Opener “Shell Canvass” demonstrates this strength: a lush, synth-pop instrumental swamped in distant melancholia, floating and traveling outwards the sky where it reaches for something infinite and drawn-out. It could’ve been more interesting had it been cherry-topped with vocals, but on the other side of the story, it’s charming the way it is. “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Waiting For Sundays” aren’t any different from the opener track, both of which explores melodic, instinctively appealing sounds and pillow-soft pleasures for comfort. Nothing really new, except for the title. The last track “Closure” provides a sharp contrast to his predominantly bright and fleeting material, working instead on a numbing shoegazer static that feels like the longest three-minute song ever recorded in history.
Half-Awake In The Morning Haze brims with big, swelling moments inspired by Francis’ efforts to harvest emotional meaning out of tightly sequenced soundscapes. But rather than holding the grip and articulating it well given the short amount of time, he puts so much emphasis on ambition that it tends to loosen its focus. Still, it’s a promising EP fuelled with youthful energy and uncompromising ideas, leaving us with something to look forward to in the near future. B-