November 26, 2022

Hex - Vast Halos (1990) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Dream Pop
Label Number: RCD 10186
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1990 Rykodisc
Another tech-heavy and mostly self-created effort from the duo (though more accurately a trio with the participation of Jim McGrath on "pounding, shaking, and apple eating"), Vast Halos is a more upfront effort in general than the band's debut. The same combination of swoony psychedelia and new wave-tinged compositions, with a dollop of T. Rex-flavored glam here and there, makes for another enjoyable album all around. The Marc Bolan tinge crops up at a number of points in the snaky slink of many melodies -- one can practically hear his trill fitting in perfectly on songs like "Hollywood in Winter" and the fine lead song, "Monarch." Thayer's singing is more direct at many points, sounding fuller in the mix and in her general delivery, while Kilbey's arrangements gain a little more in the way of detail and kicking against the sometimes-sterile rhythms. When he decides to let the epic-rock part of his personality come forth a bit more, as on the extended coda for "Antelope," the extra oomph helps send everything that little bit higher without hijacking the song entirely. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the group takes a more organic approach, as with the Indian-sounding percussion on the really lovely "Centaur," Thayer's singing is some of her most seductive and thrilling and the results are truly special. There are some striking nods to Phil Spector's Wall-of-Sound tearjerkers ("Shelter"), late-night jazz blues smokiness ("Hell"), and string-heavy waltz turns ("Orpheus Circuit," with one of Thayer's best performances), which add variety without seeming dilettantish. Not everything connects all the way, with some material merely being pleasant rather than special, but overall Vast Halos makes for a varied and intriguing effort that overtops its predecessor with skill and style.

tags: hex, vast halos, 1990, flac,


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