While the music works when it’s slow, sparse and emotional, the band’s debut comes into its own when it steps up the pace.
Released in Canada last year, this debut from the Montreal four-piece has been remixed and remastered, with new song ‘Unofferable’ added for its UK release. It’s glossier now, but it’s the quality of the songs that makes the album stand out. ‘Dark Eyes’ remains a quietly stunning record full of the sort of harmonies that Band Of Horses, whom HMR most closely resemble, have based a career around.
Opener ‘Full Circle’ is reminiscent of Fleet Foxes – all pretty arpeggios and layered arrangements, gradually building to something more substantial. Elsewhere, slow-burning tracks ‘No More Losing The War’, ‘Need It’ and ‘Unofferable’ have a deep intensity about them. They’re a sensitive bunch, Half Moon Run, and ‘Dark Eyes’ is serious business. Singer Devon Portielje has wronged someone – Karen, whose name he heartbreakingly yelps on ‘No More Losing The War’ – and he doesn’t mind beating himself up about it. ‘Need It’ finds him waking from a dream in which he pulled out his hair because he was untrue to her. On ‘Drug You’, he’s lamenting the fact that even when he’s out of his mind, there’s no escape –he’s “still a head full of hate”.
While the music works when it’s slow, sparse and emotional, the band’s debut comes into its own when it steps up the pace. ‘She Wants To Know’ skips along, a mass of slinky rhythms and shapes. ‘Give Up’ is a ringer for ‘Reckoner’ from Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ – no bad thing. And overall, this is a debut worthy of much wider attention. With songs as well crafted as ‘Nerve’, it’s hard to imagine HMR not getting it.