by Tiana Feng
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Label: Arbutus Records
It’s been two years since Braids‘ Raphaelle Standell-Preston and European artist Alex Cowan released the project’s first child in the form of an EP called Blooming Summer. Listening back, those songs seem lacking and forgettable in comparison to how much they have evolved in Untogether. Blue Hawaii’s latest debut LP Untogether blends everything lovable about Purity Ring and Grimes into one record.
The tracks range from beat heavy to minimalistic, lying in between the genres of electropop and avant-garde. The opening of ‘Follow’ could be easily confused for Arbutus labelmate Grimes with its purposely inaudible vocals and dark atmosphere. The same could be said for the end of ‘Daisy’. However the duo never stays in one place during a song continuously builds throughout into something completely different by the end.
When the duo revealed the melding of ‘In Two’ a few months back, I fell instantly in love with the heavier beats and easily digestible ethereal melodies. The background vocal sighs and glitch effects are reminiscent of Megan James of Purity Ring. Like most records, it should be listened on something better than shitty laptop speakers. Blue Hawaii continuously tickles your musical sentences in this record continuously abusing left and right panning. ‘Try To Be’ does this creating a neat effect in an otherwise calm song while “Sweet Tooth”‘s ear-alternating rhythm sounds almost jarring and constantly alternates in dynamic. All is forgiven because they resolve it in such a spectacular way that you don’t even realize when the sound disappears and is replaced by Ra singing the exact same notes.
If there’s any criticism to be had in this album, it would be the flow. The second half of the album transitions strangely between deep and glitch filled to calm, legato and minimalistic. However, both sides of the spectrum are equally as enjoyable. When you’re not having a dance party in your head, you are appreciating some of the delicate moments of life.