It’s very rare that an album should render me speechless, and without any conceivable description of it. Enter Blue Hawaii’s feature LP Untogether. As their first feature length album and follow up to their Central American inspired 2010 EP, Blooming Summer, the ambience and whimsy of this album is enough for you to get uncontrollably lost in. In fact, to be honest, I wish I was listening to it again, rather than writing this review.
The Montreal-based ambient pop duo met through the project’s vocalist, Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s participation in Calgary based, dream-pop band, BRAIDS. Alex ‘Agor’ Cowan, the craftsman behind the synths, met Preston amidst the precipice of Montreal’s triumphant underground music scene; the apparent stomping ground for rated electronic/ambient/psychedelic pop artists like Grimes, Purity Ring and Preston’s BRAIDS.
The duo’s debut album explores themes of distance and disconnection within a relationship; a sort of musical suicide note before a relationship’s end. Aptly titled Untogether, the duo managed to record the album separate from each other, often in different rooms or while Cowan was in Berlin. The opening track ‘Follow’ reads like a full length intro, before it descends into Preston’s vocals, which seem to be a host for clarity. The single, ‘Try to Be’ speaks of growth and identity, as Preston giddily sings lyrics of the cold world ahead: “As the real world come to its feet / To shake my hand and greet / With coldness and eloquence / I’m never tired to in distress.”
While there are tracks like ‘Flammarion’ that do little to complement Preston’s voice, or ‘In Two ll’, where her voice is completely absent for two-thirds of the track, standout tracks are in abundance. The light melodics and dreamy vocals in ‘Sweet Tooth’ make it impossible for you to refrain from humming along after the first twelve seconds. The album closes with the heavy, ‘The Other Day’; a chilling conclusion laced with Preston’s haunting vocals under a number of effects and deep breaths. The song is possibly the most provoking of the eleven tracks, with only thirteen lines to tell its story.
Blue Hawaii’s Untogether, as well as the Blooming Summer EP, are currently available on iTunes.
Check out their bandcamp for current updates and touring info!
And be sure to read Cassandra’s review of their NXNE performance!