The Helio Sequence – [Album]

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

It might sound deliberately contrary, but some records just slide by my sensibilities too easily. For me, the hook in a song isn't so much the device which convinces me to listen as it is the thing which gets stuck in my head and helps me remember the band at all; the hooks are the mnemonic devices I use to associate a band's sound with their image and makes their name both recognizable and memorable. Without that identifier, the sound of a record as well as the name of the band who made it become totally forgettable. That might sound cold or cruel, but that's just how I consume music; there are some things (like Christmas carols, most of Sarah McLachlan's catalogue, John Denver's entire songbook and the lion's share of the first wave of New Wave) that I lose easily because they're just too pale and hard to differentiate between. That ability to forget the things which pass by too easily is one of the reasons I had an incredibly hard time reviewing The Helio Sequence's newest record; actively trying to keep my attention fixed on Negotiations proved to be an incredible chore.

The running of Negotiations gets slick and slippery right from the top of “One More Time,” and listeners will find they're only really struck by just how hard it is to pinpoint any one thing notable about the song. Here, singer Brandon Summers unleashes a vocal melody that is as smooth and prefabricated as Velveeta cheese while also churning out a perfectly canny chord progression with the help of multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Weikel. Those listeners who fan admit they were big fans of the Brit-Pop made in the Eighties will find themselves captivated by the sounds found early on Negotiations for one hot minute but it doesn't take that interest long to wane and some listeners will have found they've lost interest completely even before the three and a half minutes of time it takes to get through that first track has lapsed.

Those listeners who do hang in there after “One More Time” finishes testing their patience won't find themselves rewarded for their effort anywhere on Negotiations, they'll just find themselves pushed to care the exact same way ten more times – or the exact same number of songs which make up this album's run-time. Many songs (including “October,” “Harvester Of Souls,” “Silence On Silence” and “December”) replay the exact same formula expressed by the album's opening song with the exact same results and rate of success (Summers says it best himself when he says it's “Like a trainwreck in slow motion” in “Downward Spiral”), but things do get slightly more tedious when the band attempts to ambitiously impersonate The Killers (see “When The Shadow Falls,” “Hall Of Mirrors” and “Open Letter”) and thoroughly confounds negative criticism only because those who would trash the effort can't decide how to qualify it in a brief manner. Unfortunately, the record isn't so much poor as it is pitiful, in that way.

So what's next for Helio Sequence? Because Negotiations is their fifth album (third for Sub Pop), it stands to reason that the band might be able to pull something off if they come up with a better effort quickly (and hope it totally overshadows this feeb), but it will really all depend on what Helio Sequence is capable of. If this is the best the band is able to do at this stage of the game, their best bet is to cash in their chips and call it a day; the bandmembers may yet be able to salvage careers if they go their separate ways.


The Helio Sequence
–“October” –  Negotiations


is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.