Heat Thing

Written by: TL on 28/02/2013 21:52:49

The way the mysterious SHONE entered the conciousness of the scene - eerie viral marketing campaign and secret band-members and all - it's really no wonder the speculation around them quickly built to a level where you almost expected them to turn the rock scene upside down. Maybe that's why the disappointment that's been directed towards debut release "Heat Thing" online has been so pronounced. Because "Heat Thing" isn't quite a revolution, but that being said, it still is a pretty unusual record, worthy of at least a spin or two.

Judging from "Heat Thing", the band - that's been revealed as a constellation of people from in and around Brand New and Kevin Devine's Goddamn Band - go for a really unusual sort of experimental/art rock/pop, with lumbering, thumping beats, peculiar melodies and a rambling vocal style that I can only describe as a mix of Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse) and Robert Smith. And for a moment there, I'm buying into it, mainly because opener "Piano Wire No. 12". The intertwining rhythms of beat, piano-key and vocals is instantly engaging and the layers of guitar, ambiance and backing vocals that come in lends the track a surge of power that really makes you think that "Heat Thing" has something big in store for you. It's highly surprising then, yet still pretty cool, when the following "Metal Bones", step all the way down from the high rises of "Piano Wire", to an uncompromisingly gloomy mellowness, with drawn out vocal melodies that are a whole different kind of fascinating - although still really fascinating - with the way they take highly unexpected twists and turns.

After this eclectic and promising start however, things quickly deteriorate. "Fischer King" is 24 seconds of supposedly 'spooky' interlude noises, and despite its wild rhythm and crazy guitar/saxophone duel, "Defender 237" never takes off and becomes an actual track either, which means that at track five we've only really arrived at the third song, "Baby Shakes". The song's gotten its fair share of criticism online, and deservedly so because it does indeed seem silly as hell, especially compared to the otherwise serious tone of "Metal Bones", but that being said, it does have some oddball charm, combining with "Piano Wire" to remind me of the pop/rock/weirdness of recent one-hit wonder bands like AWOLNATION and Imagine Dragons.

I suspect however, that the reason it stands out as a highlight to me, is that the album fades more and more into an unstructured mess over the last four tracks. Things are stranger and more ethereal than Bon Iver's "Bon Iver, Bon Iver", and while there are good single moments in closer "Bestial" for instance, the impression I'm left with is that SHONE allowed their ideas to be laid down on record without actually working them into coherent songs, opting rather to just hide in their excentricity and their brilliant production job (courtesy of Mike Sapone). It means that it's hard for the listener to figure out if they mean to be serious experimentalists, or if they want to just be silly, deranged pop-rockers of sort, and it means that the best of their ideas feel like they swim separately in murky soup of a soundscape that hasn't taken direction yet. More simply put: It means that despite all the hype and mystery, you're likely going to walk away from "Heat Thing" with just a single or two to remember it by, and that's quite a letdown considering the build-up.

Download: Piano Wire No. 12, Metal Bones, Baby Shakes
For The Fans Of: Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade, Manchester Orchestra

Release Date 05.02.2013
Procrastinate! Music Traitors

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