[sic] Magazine

Blue Hawaii – Untogether

If in 2010 Blue Hawaii and Grimes were on similar trajectories then the former’s new LP Untogether derails the notion that they’ll forever be hand-in-hand. Then the pair were label-mate contemporaries, Claire Boucher on the verge of mutating her outsider electro-synth sounds stratospherically, the summery Blue Hawaii duo her hometown chillwave counterfoil.

The 2013 outlook is quite different for Raphaelle Standell-Preston (equally of Braids ) and Alex Cowan . Now, those tell-tale chipmunk vocals and Cowan’s skittering, bit-driven keys of the 8-track Blooming Summer EP have morphed into superior cut-and-paste, R&B inflected collages – oddly concentrated passages of sultry ambience that frequently sound like clouds making love.

Yet, defining album statement, the two-part “In Two”, couldn’t have originated from anywhere but modern-day Montreal. Part one pits bubbling tribal-pop against intangible cooing, Purity Ring ‘s snare rips back-to-back with slo-mo moaning. Part two introduces a user-friendly strain of industrial percussion, lurching in a stop-motion fashion sure to be pilfered by mainstream pop by the end of the year. At the other end of the spectrum however, you have the ghostly opener, built on nothing much save vapours and dreams.

It’s news to no-one that the boutique beat label Tri Angle and its band of untouchable producers have been influential and “Sierra Lift” and “Daisy” here treat their house sound with reverence whilst slashing through glitchy reels of top 40 capture, the resultant destruction raining down on the mix like aural confetti. The rather lovely, cut-and paste single “Try To Be” is also quick to jump the good ship spliced R&B, echoes of which dance in the breeze with sad synth, acoustics progressions and star-gazing choral textures.

The relationship between Standell-Preston and Cowan – both musical and romantic – has really matured in the three years since Blooming Summer . Cowan’s palette has widened greatly – even so far as embracing speaker-panning post-step and Bass rhythms – and Standell-Preston’s otherworldly trickery is now something to behold too. When taken together, this marriage of disjointed effects and organic vocal drift can at first be quite alien but, as the album remains a pop construct at heart, it slowly reveals its beautiful cohesion through restraint, echoing space and oppressive minutiae all as evocative as its strangely apt title.

Advised downloads: “In Two” (parts I and II) and “Sierra Lift”

~Untogether is out now on Arbutus Records .~

Blue Hawaii @ bandcamp