Half Light creates psychedelic dream pop in the Emerald City. “Things to Figure Out” is the follow up to 2008’s “Sleep More, Take More Drugs, Do Whatever We Want,” which was described as "a unique and memorable sound collage,” (Three Imaginary Girls) and as “a charming debut” that managed to, “bring many different genres together to create gorgeous landscapes,” (Is This Music). Half Light’s sound has been compared to Mazzy Star, The Cranes, Portishead, The Dandy Warhols, and Acetone.
Half Light did in fact figure some things out during the making of “Things to Figure Out.” On this mature, cohesive collection of psychedelic dream-pop vignettes there is a focus on showcasing rather than piling on layers. The vibe of the recording lets the listener really explore the moods of people getting by in the Northwest.
The central theme to “Things to Figure Out” is an exploration of light and dark, possibly because the band’s original follow-up to “Sleep More...” was lost in the Australian Outback or because the album is rooted in the moody Northwest. Side one starts out with “Mesa,” a slightly sinister, politically inspired tune that portrays a dark grind and sense of hopelessness. Next is the single-worthy track “The Deep End,” which has a mesmerizing cello hook and a message of hope. “Idaho,” and the Half Light theme song “Nothing At All,” explore what it feels like to be human in an overwhelmingly alive and beautiful landscape. Psychedelic textures and lyrically headier arrangements are found on “Arizona Pines” and “Dream About Simple.”
Half Light enlisted the talents of renowned producer and PopLlama founder Conrad Uno to record and mix “Things to Figure Out,” a choice that resulted in a quality recording with a distinct vibe. Compared to the band’s previous home-recorded efforts, working with Uno provided a more relaxed environment which put the band’s focus on playing.
Uno’s mix gives “Things to Figure Out” a vibrant, live sound supported by the strong foundation of singer/bass player Dayna Loeffler’s lush, dreamy vocals and the intertwining, complex dual guitar lines of Brian Ackley and Scott Muhlbeier. Adding to the texture is subtle, focused rhythm section work by Dayna and drummer Jeff Baars. Since the release of “Sleep More...” cellist Barb Hunter joined the band as a full-time member. Her playing adds a traditional cello sound to the overall texture while her use of a variety of effects brings sounds to the recording that may be mistaken for a keyboard, another bass or an additional guitar.
Dreamy textures, soaring landscapes, heady lyrics and the vibe of rainy Sunday afternoons will give fans both old and new much to explore on Half Light’s “Things to Figure Out.”