Music Review – The Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead
The Helio Sequence has always been a band that’s almost impossible to categorize. Folk- Electronica? Progressive indie-pop blues? The bastard stepchild of My Bloody Valentine and Bob Dylan? Fortunately, the inability to pigeon-hole the band has never stopped them from continuing to chart their own course, mixing genres to create emotionally anchored epics.
For all the ambient noise, layered strings, and wall of sound elements, The Helio Sequence’s strengths lie in frontman Brandon Summers’ raspy, whiskey-soaked, voice and Benjamin Weikel’s driving drumbeats. They stand out, even amongst all the extra sonic bells and whistles, and keep the album grounded enough to avoid drifting into Moby territory.
On the duo’s third release, Keep Your Eyes Ahead, the band’s vision finally comes into focus. “You Can Come To Me” starts off sounding like an Atari video game by way of a Casio keyboard, until it slowly adds layer upon layer of sound, and builds to a rewarding climax. “Hallelujah” is a soaring anthem that grabs you from the first note and never lets go, while “Shed Your Love” finds Summers “Drinking the dark wine of the New York night” against the quiet loneliness of an acoustic guitar and whispered ambiance. But, ironically enough for a band known for it’s musical bag o’ tricks, the album’s clear highlight is the stark and bare-boned “Broken Afternoon,” which features Summers at his most Dylan-esque, weathered and worn. The track is hauntingly beautiful, and there’s a purity to it that sets it apart from the rest of the album. This is not to say the disc isn’t without it’s flaws; “Captive Mind” sounds like a poor man’s Interpol, and “No Regrets” could be a leftover from Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. But when it delivers, it really delivers, and for a band that takes this many risks, the payoff is well worth it.