[Album Review] Heaven For Real- Kill Your Memory
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Release Date: July 15th, 2016
Label: Mint Records

Kudos to Heaven For Real for not cranking what no one needs right now — yet another by-the-book, conventional indie folk-rock album. On ‘Kill Your Memory’ the band takes the approach of building up expectations and then dashing them to the ground. The result is not quite avant-garde, or even experimental, but it is refreshing. Unfortunately, they don’t always manage to quite pull it off.

Things start out quite well. “Subliminal” introduces us to the band’s style — an endearing mix of slacker alternative folk music, dreampop vocals and college radio smarts. The song continually teeters on the brink of breaking down, going off-key or simply tripping out, but it delightfully manages to stay on track. But then comes the title track and the quartet really test the limits of our tolerance. “Kill Your Memory” features a distinctly math rock rhythm, so right off the bat it is not an easy listen. The vocals making the going even tougher, as the singer throws in some deliberate flat note and at times is frankly unmelodic. The song is almost spared by a more conventional hippie-like chorus, but even with repeated listens this song just doesn’t quite sit well.

The balance of the album is a mixture of songs that are far more digestible (such as the jangle pop “No One Knows Her”) and songs that fall more in the spectrum lying between the first two tracks. “I’m Sick” has a few challenging elements, like a repetitive narrative and guitar passages that seem at odds with the main rhythm. However, much like “Subliminal” this song actually works, with the vocals growing on you despite the melody being at a minimum, and the guitar parts ultimately forming a perfect complement. Less successful are tracks like “Hotel #55”, on which the instrumentation is discordant and lacks structure (although it does have a decent vocal melody).

There is no question that Heaven For Real have true talent (after all, they are members or ex-members of groups likes Monomyth, Old and Weird and Crosss) and at times they really show their chops. Arguably, their finest moment comes on the last track, ironically called “Misfire” (it is anything but). Coming across like Canned Heat on speed, the song has a frisky, almost country-rock beat. The singer often shifts up to the falsetto, and the beat changes up, interspersed with jazz/math moments. It’s dizzy and glorious. It’s like they finally pulled together everything they were trying to do leading up to this final spurt.

So, in the end the album is an uneven effort. The majority is decent, and a few of the songs are really something special. Heck, that more than makes up for the odd misfire (not the song “Misfire”).