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Listening

Heligoland, Shift These Thoughts

If you are one of the people who can imagine music that’s a precise combination of His Name is Alive, the Cocteau Twins, and It’ll End in Tears-era This Mortal Coil, then there’s a good chance you have a 1993 Vaughan Oliver calendar on your bedroom wall and that Heligoland’s Shift These Thoughts is the album you’ve been waiting for for 11-odd years.

If you’re not one of these people, you’re in for a treat.

The Melbourne-based Heligoland makes music that’s awash in emotion. Karen Vogt’s striking, ascending vocals glide above the band’s dramatic, yet simple guitar-drums-bass combo. The band works within a limited range of style, and it’s beautiful music that’s the goal here. Use of effects is subtle and often spare. Songs glitter about in your mind, the songwriting more concerned with exploration and mood than forward motion and development.

And though this is a fine arrangement that reaches lofty results, it is when the two intentions come together, on the track “Flat Four” [MP3], that Heligoland produces what is perhaps the most beautiful song by anybody so far this year. A strong key change, an extraordinarily simple break in mood and rhythm that swells your heart with splendor and clarity. That they’ve done it with such grace and aplomb is mind-blowing.

It’s that powerful.




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Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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