Generationals – Heza

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

Heza is the third proper full-length from Generationals, and while the sound remains largely the same, there are some definite shifts that alter the musical landscape for the group.  One thing is for sure though, the band consistently find themselves crafting perfect pop tunes that we’ll all enjoy.

“Spinoza” starts things off the right way, giving you some quick paced guitar work that reminds me of the modern surf-pop of bands like The Drums.  Of course, one thing the Generationals always have to make them stick out is the affecting vocal tone present on all their efforts.  It’s the perfect way to make surf-pop their own.  But, just as you think you’ve got the group pinned down, they go in a different direction on “Extra Free Year.”  This tune is filled with a thick bouncing bass, and the delivery of the vocal is much more subdued than on the previous track.  Little bits of guitar trickle in and out of the song, but it’s largely driven by the rhythm section.  It took me awhile to warm up to it, but it grew on me eventually.

By the time you arrive at “You Got Me,” you realize that Heza definitely has an emphasis on giving you hooks surrounded by the blips and beeps of electronica, though that’s not a huge step in a new direction, as those elements have been present before.  But, while past songs have seen those attributes used to push the track, here it seems to flesh out a mellower vibe.  There’s even vocal samples from a speech that fill out some of the empty space.  It’s tracks like this that suffice, though they’re not necessarily going to go down as my favorite. Still, it sets the mood for “Put the Light On,” which is one of the album’s standouts.  Guitar work is sparse, yet jagged, and there’s a warm atmospheric mood accentuated by some keyboard touches.  Those soaring high vocals that always do the trick are here too, allowing listeners to really fall in love with the great vibes provided by Generationals.

While I think that Heza is a little unfocused at points, the remarkable tracks are extremely memorable.  “Awake” is perfect in that it shows some restraint in pacing.  Had the band forced the issue, pace wise, I think they might have had a guaranteed iTunes commercial spot, though I’m glad they didn’t, as the true joy from this track comes when you let it slowly unfold.  This is where the band excels most on this effort, rather than their more traditional bouncing pop ditties.

After spending several weeks listening to Heza, I think that it’s an album with some great high points, and not really any lows.  Surprisingly, Generationals have excelled this time around on warmer, slower tracks.  You’ve still got your catchy pop tunes that will no doubt become live favorites, but if you spend time with the record, you’ll surely find clarity in their more pristine ballads.  Might not be top of the pops just yet, but the group continues to win my heart.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/02-You-Got-Me.mp3]

Download: Generationals – You Got Me [MP3]

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