Aloha - Home Acres
Record Label: Polyvinyl Records
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Aloha is a band properly named, not because the group has a sunny disposition (in fact the opposite is closer to the truth), but because of double-meanings and opposite interpretations the word evokes.
From the opening bass rumble on “Building A Fire,” Home Acres is an exercise in serene tension. The songs roll along with the slightest apprehension in the face of their light power pop melodies, like there is a worrisome dark cloud just on the horizon of this sunny day. Maybe it’s because Aloha doesn’t let the listener “breathe” that causes this effect. For example, a song like “Moonless March” seems to be a standard piano pop song on the surface, but the music crams the space and it doesn’t let up. There just aren’t pockets of air to breach up into. Oddly enough, this feels absolutely fresh and thrilling.
Another selling point of the album is the understated intelligence of the songs. Aloha gives off an air of sagacity because of a consistent sense of proper tone. The lyrics and vocal delivery never seem off: never goofy, never too serious, never too melodramatic. The same goes for the instrumentals, as is made clear by the way the marimba lines on “Microviolence” seem essential and not simply a frivolous add-on by a band looking to stuff in some atypical instrumentation.
Still, the slickest aspect of Home Acres is its shadiness. Perhaps it’s the preponderance of minor key mysteries, but Home Acres feels effortlessly dark. It’s something that has to be heard to understand, because there is nothing explicit about it. It just creeps in delicately under the sonic current yet still sends wondrous quick chills up the spine.
While Aloha has a distinct sound that slowly is discerned throughout the album, there are little parts that touch other current artists’ sounds on a level that can only be weened out after a few listens. The most fun track from Home Acres, “Cold Storage,” could easily fit into Minus the Bear’s catalog with all the electric touches and rhythmically distinct guitar work. A dash of early Foo Fighters can be heard in “Searchlight”’s chorus. The previously noted “Moonless March” could be a lost track from the recording session of Death Cab For Cutie’s The Photo Album. A few tracks even ring of Fountains of Wayne minus the irreverence. This is all not to say Aloha is trying to take these bands' sounds, quite the contrary. They are Aloha songs, but ones that are so well done that they can stand toe-to-toe with these other artists who have garnered high critical and public appreciation.
Home Acres is the type of album that could all too easily fly under the radar without a lot of fuss, but it is too good for that to be the fate it suffers. The grab bag of sounds the band pulls from makes for a wonderfully deep indie pop album that could go down as one of the 2010’s best hidden gems.