Perhaps a product of the now cult-sized Mac DeMarco following, a twangy revolution has started in the indie community, particularly in eastern Canada. Through their sunburst melodies and nostalgic lyrics, Heaven for Real have deemed themselves the next member of the Halifax community of pleasant indie imperfection. Despite being a decent group of songwriters that put together varying song structures with solid melodies, Heaven for Real fail to fully break into a sound of their own on their new album Kill Your Memory resulting in a somewhat forgettable 2016 album release.
Heaven for Real are certainly a solid instrumental group. Their guitar melodies are intricate with light distortion coming into play on occasion between clean noodling. Some of the songs have a lot of moving parts with instrumental interludes breaking up the lazy vocal delivery. “Oasis Melting (Visitor on Vacation)” becomes a stand-out track with its droning, aquatic guitar tones slowly building into a quick moving tune with the lyrics “when you stare through my I’m beside myself.” The song manages to obtain a form and sound unlike the other tracks on the record by building from beginning to end, contrasting the constantly gyrating melodies of songs like “Hotel #55,” “Subliminal,” and “Known Steps in Directions Unknown.”
The ability to put together melodies is clear, but the band certainly misses the mark a bit on certain tunes, especially towards the end of the album where many of the songs are only about 2 minutes in length. “Allan” comes across as a dull, unnecessary instrumental with guitar oscillation highlighted by a light vocal sample. Following “Allan” comes “Hard Done By,” a song including what may be the worst guitar solo recorded in 2016. Also in the mix are “Smooth Ops” and “Misfire,” which feel like filler, adding little more than extra guitar noodling and talk-singing to the albums brighter opening tracks.
To be quite blunt: the band needs to work on vocals. Perhaps the slightly out of tune mumbling works well on the happy-go-lucky simple songs, but the soaring melodies on title track “Kill Your Memory” come across as out of practice. Also, the well-practiced instrumental work loses some of the impact in the laid back vocal approach, which deems the tempo a bit non-specific. It would be nice to hear more confidence from the lead singer. This would add a bit more bite to the sound aesthetic.
Lyrically, the group shows promise touching upon relatable topics of home and nostalgia and also dipping into obscurity with quirky thematic ideas. Title track “Kill Your Memory” essentially sticks to one theme throughout, discussing the way certain aspects of life change and others don’t; “You’ve grown and changed apparently/but my own sight won’t/not that I would make waves start living under changing things/kill your memory.” The following song “No One Knows Her” starts with a certain morbidity, the opening line “no knows her like seconds before the grave/absolute search for parties that come close” indirectly addressing the concept of dying alone with the speaker turning to introspection for the rest of the song; “I am worried for other days.” Although a certain focus can be found in the lyrics of each song, the band thrives on imagery rather than narrative with metaphors and specific explanation filling in the space: “Saw the dry rice bulge on the etiquette line” kicking off “Smooth Ops.”
Admittedly, I probably have some bias against music of this genre, however, I certainly do not think it would be unfair to say that Heaven for Real is a part of a specific trend. Music at this sonic capacity is all over the internet right now and the twangy awkward vibes are sure to be out the door when the next era in DIY indie rock comes along. Nonetheless, the work is not completely boring with well composed songs filling out the beginning of the album and intriguing lyrics coming from beginning to end.
Band displays potential in songwriting, but lackluster vocals and trendy aesthetic make this album pretty average. 6/10