Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Label: Sub Pop
Catalog #: 70709
After 3 albums and ten years of touring and recording, The Helio Sequence (Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel) have recorded their most dynamic, extraordinary work to date. Keep Your Eyes Ahead marries the Portland duo’s signature layered keyboards and impossibly big guitars with crisp songwriting and a newfound appreciation for minimalism. The finger picking on “Shed Your Love” is backed by exquisite strings and ambient noise, but Brandon’s serene, self-assured delivery remains front and center. While songs from the band’s early releases spanned up to 7 minutes, even the longest, lushest, catchiest track on Keep Your Eyes Ahead (fiery anthem “Hallelujah”) clocks in at 4 and a half minutes, evidence of just how refined their craft has become. Vocals were recorded spontaneously in bedroom closets and living rooms, which may explain the haunting urgency you hear in Brandon’s voice, especially on driving tracks like “Keep Your Eyes Ahead.” The band also took its time on the album. After the bulk of official recording was completed, a listen through all the demos and snippets on Brandon’s hard drive convinced Benjamin there were more gems in the rough (which is how both “Hallelujah” and “Keep Your Eyes Ahead,” as well as the mid-tempo “Back to This” were rediscovered and retooled).
Produced by the band, Keep Your Eyes Ahead confirms in The Helio Sequence an energy and a range that continues to defy narrow categorization. Unapologetic pop and folk meld seamlessly to create songs that are bigger, more epic and polished than anything they’ve ever done. Keep Your Eyes Ahead is the sound of a band and a decade-old partnership that’s been invigorated. And that’s exactly how the songs will make you feel: invigorated.