September 8, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Love In Athens - Half-Awake In The Morning Haze (2012)

In his recent move from Davao City to Manila, Love In Athens a.k.a. Francis Maria Regalado documents the shift in his environment and city life workings on his new EP Half-Awake In The Morning Haze. Francis has since then tied up with Number Line Records and its all-embracing preference on wordless, electro-pop mush and mathy ambient mixes—and rather than pushing a different direction to do the trick for him, he settles on serving up tried-and-tested, label-mate formula for our digital consumption, replicating what his peers have successfully cooked up in their previous releases with a bit of post-rock sensibility and maybe a little bit of himself.

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- 

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