Album: Dark Eyes
Artist: Half Moon Run
Label: Indica Records
Half Moon Runis the type of band that refuses to fall neatly into a single category. They move elegantly between acid jazz, indie rock and a mastery of modern folk to produce a sound that is both familiar and enticingly foreign.
The Canadian group formed in 2010 and quickly capitalised on the folk resurgence that Mumford & Sons had triggered a year earlier. In less than two years they would find playing South by Southwest and Glastonbury.
Their relative success would be elevated to fame overnight when Full Circle was used as the soundtrack in a trailer for Assassin’s Creed IV which aggregated over a million views on YouTube. In this respect Half Moon Run shares their path to fame with bands like Cage the Elephant and Woodkid who have also been thrown into popular culture by video game trailers.
Half Moon is able to produce such a vibrant tapestry of sounds because no member is tied into a single role. While lead singer Devon Portielje provides the lion’s share of the vocals everyone else chips in on their harmonies. That, combined with the Devon’s understated yet profoundly emotional singing gives many of their songs a haunting undertone. Conner Molander, Dylan Phillips and Isaac Symonds make up the rest of the band and move between drums, keyboard and mandolin and percussion as songs demand.
The choral quality is a consistent feature in their songs, intricately sewn between vibrant guitar melodies and an eclectic array of ambient sounds which comprise the backgrounds. Their music would fit perfectly in the friendliest ghost house. This ambivalence is something Half Moon has firmly in their grasp. Songs dance between conflicting emotions, never letting one win out over the other. This balance allows for most of their music to be both your new happy song and your new sad song. It helps that you won’t be able to resist singing along.
Take Need It for example. A slow, sustained electric guitar riff is entwined with an organ, light taps on the drums and Devon’s gentlest singing on the album to produce a sensual masterpiece. Its relative simplicity is shown up by their best known single, Full Circle. This progressive piece is a delicate combination of acoustic and electric guitar, heavy percussion beats and tempered drumming. Instruments and induced and removed as sharp changes in tempo breathe life into the song.
If you’re into anything indie you need look no further for your next favourite band.