We owe a lot of credit to our good pals in L-Space for this one, helping us be introduced to Edinburgh experimental pop four-piece Half Formed Things, a band whose name we’ve seen floating around lately, particularly as members of the bill for Flying Moon 2019, but we hadn’t listened to them previously.
That was until they slipped into our inbox with a copy of their debut full-length album – To Live In A Flicker – leaving us with no choice but to finally check them out, and we are glad we did, because this is a superb record.
Entering with the sounds of distant church bells, they quickly grabbed us with the opener The Flicker which has this compellingly haunting edge to it, and that’s a tone that remains pretty recurrent throughout as they focus on pretty dark subject matters and tackle them through the tremendous, fiercely fixating writing.
Another key aspect that helps this album to is the extensive variety of it. Whether obviously or subtly, the quartet consistently evolve. You never get the same kind of song back-to-back, it’s always changing, it’s always different.
The tracks can be grand, luxurious and almost abrasive at times, otherwise they’re much calmer, at a low-tempo and lay heavy on the atmosphere side of things. Out of the many highlights, the personal stand outs for us were the dazzling fully instrumental The One You Hate, the blow away Among Men and the immensely spine-tingling Pendulum…like, seriously spine-tingling.
Also, in a way we can’t fully put into words, there’s this sense of timelessness too, mixing elements from both artists of years gone by, and those more current, and it wasn’t until we listened to this that we came to realise just how rare a quality that is in music.
As for the performances, each member devotes a hell of an effort here. The guitars are great, the drumming makes a focal impact, the unified harmonies are just stunning – the fact they keep mixing up who takes the lead on the vocals also adds to the diversity – and the pianos are utterly gorgeous; it’s been so, so long since we’ve heard piano work to this high a standard, and off the top of our heads, it’s very difficult to think of anything recently that comes anywhere close to matching it.
So in conclusion, we adore this. To Live In A Flicker is one of the most majestic, breath-taking records we’ve indulged in as of late, and as a debut, you couldn’t have asked for a better initial impression.
The first listen alone captured our imaginations, but on the second, it only improved and struck this indescribable chord with us, where all the facets become more fleshed out and fully realised. It’s a pure work of art.
Half Formed Things in one fell swoop have delivered one of the ultimate highlights of the year, whilst firmly establishing themselves as the future of Scottish music.