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Fourteen Twentysix - In Halflight Our Soul Glows CD (album) cover

IN HALFLIGHT OUR SOUL GLOWS

Fourteen Twentysix

 

Crossover Prog

3.61 | 9 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' - Fourteen Twentysix (8/10)

Fourteen Twentysix- the project of one Chris van der Linden- has seen quite a development in the time since its last album. With the debut 'Lighttown Closure', the band was essentially a one man outfit; an outlet in which Chris could express himself through a brooding post alt- rock hybrid. As dreary and laid back an album as it was, 'Lighttown Closure' certain opened doors both for Chris and the Fourteen Twentysix. This has since developed into a professional full-band, and as such, Fourteen Twentysix's second album is quite a bit different than they were the first time around. A year in the making, 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' is no longer simply the work of Chris van der Linden, but now an entire ensemble of talented musicians, and the new wealth of insights has paid off.

Like 'Lighttown Closure', 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' is a grower of an album, albeit for very different reasons. While the sleepiness of 'Lighttown' took me a while to sink into it, 'Halflight' is much the opposite. Ambition has been in no short supply this time around; 'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' has expanded Fourteen Twentysix into fullblown concept album territory, although the themes within are more abstract than some straightforward narrative. Musically, the thing that 'Lighttown' needed most- that being energy- is handed up in generous amounts, with a more consistent flow of interesting ideas. Although the archetypal prog community may initially turn their nose at the prospect of shorter songs, it really does work in Fourteen Twentysix's favour. There is little to no gap between these songs, and as many of these songs can get quite eventful, the song lengths are deceptive.

Musically speaking, there is a strong pop sensibility here, although- like Porcupine Tree- a prog rock approach is asserted through the way the pieces are arranged and produced. Fourteen Twentysix has never been a stranger to electronics, and there are plenty of synthesized bits of ambiance here to embellish the music. Many guitar lines are layered over like post-rock, but they never take long to get where they need to go. I could joke and call this latest incarnation of Fourteen Twentysix 'Prog Cab For Cutie', as that's certainly the impression that I draw from many of the songs here, particularly one of my favourite songs, the nostalgic 'Summer Snow'. Besides citing Death Cab, Radiohead and even U2 are other bands I could draw comparisons to, although by that same measuring stick, Meshuggah references may even pop up, as evidenced by a quirky break in 'Sleepwalker'.

Chris' voice has always been part of Fourteen Twentysix's sound that helped distinguish them, and that rings true on 'Halflight' as well. His voice has certainly improved over 'Lighttown' and the 'Songs To Forget' demos, and there is a greater confidence to his delivery; once again something that I felt was lacking on 'Lighttown Closure'. On top of Chris' vocal offerings, band mate Tom van Nuenen gives a similar, yet distinctive style of singing to counter Chris, either as a background vocalist, or pulling leads of his own, all to the music's benefit. It's also well worthy of mention that Mick Moss of Antimatter helps play a song here, the single 'Every Line', which is driven by the band's virtually omniscient electronic beats and quirky ambiance.

'In Halflight Our Soul Glows' is a very futuristic-sounding album, and could be compared to what Peter Gabriel did with his album 'Up'. There is a lot happening with this album, but the music is based in a deceptively accessible brand of alternative rock. Not all of the band's experiments work- 'Rush Run' feels like a dabble in noise that misses more than it hits- and as a moderate backlash with the album's pacing, there is the definite feeling that some of these songs and ideas could have blossomed if they were given a little more time to develop and mature. Regardless, 'Halflight' is among the best albums I've heard so far in 2012, and while it may be downright silly to declare so early in the year, I have a hard time believing this won't be somewhere on my top albums list in December. An excellent and enveloping album, and it's been well worth the wait.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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