22 December 2015 (released)
13 May 2016
If the new Radiohead left you wanting even more dreamy ballads, Spines of the Heart, the sprawling double album from California computer-crooner Bryan Deister delivers that in spades. The Berklee School of Music educated multi-instrumentalist and producer's 22 track opus is rife with sleepy vocal harmonies melting in to milky synth lines.
Album opener, 'All That I Have' bounces along in rounded tones with gently swinging drums. The keys roll along in warm fuzzy bleeps and blurps like robots having a romantic evening at a chalet. A slow burning falsetto lays out Deister's wistful lyrics. Calm waves of distortion guide the song to it's climax.
With the scaled back 'In Her Eyes' and 'Have You', Deister seems to sink in to his own style by hitting a mantra and sticking with it. The latter calmly floating over a effortless seven beat. Repeated lines allow you to paint your own picture, provided it's dreamy and dystopian.
The songs where Deister slips out of his measured falsetto tend to take you out of the mood. His straight singing voice is not as strong which does a disservice to the music as some of the more daring work musically tends to be paired with some of the less successful vocal lines.
Lead single 'In to the Sky' reverses this trend with a very Queen-like set of descending harmonies over this catchy, intrepid piece. A pleasant jaunty bass line and snappy drums make this one a definite stand out. A perfect airy soundtrack to summer break misadventures. Second single 'Today' harkens back to a simpler Radiohead style, closer to the downtempo numbers from The Bends.
It's easy for writers to proclaim that a double album could be better off as a single disc. Critics and even The Beatles themselves have said that about an album as revered as the White Album. In this case, it is true. The gems are in there to be found but there is fat to be trimmed, lesser performances to be weeded out and repeated themes that could be streamlined. I imagine a playlist with the best half of this album would better showcase Deister's talents.