There's too much post-rock in this town, too much instrumental guitar music and too much ambient electronica for one city. At times it seems Dublin is a breeding ground for groups of lads with guitars, distortion pedals and laptops, often hugely mediocre and barely distinguishable from each other. Thank heavens for Halves, then, whose style and timbre may not, on the surface, seem all that different to that of their lesser counterparts, but they have more grace and subtlety than the vast majority of their peers could ever hope for.
Forming back in 2006, this debut has been a long time coming, and only finally came together when the band decamped to Canada to record in Montreal's legendary Hotel2Tango studios over the course of just two weeks. While guests on this album include Stars' Amy Millan, Katie Kim, Subplots Phil Boughton, Canadian harpist Elaine Kelly-Canning, Irish Chamber brass and string players and twenty-seven members of the Kilkenny choir, all that is entirely forgotten on listening to this record as their individual contributions are so secondary to the overall tone and atmosphere of the finished piece.
As with most good post-rock outfits, the lure lies in the creation of wondrous climaxes, the kind achieved with accelerating rhythms and criss-crossing strings on 'Blood Branches' or with the slow layering of vocals on 'Darling, You'll Meet Your Maker'. As well as their soft, unobtrusive delivery, the delicate and careful arrangement of the vocals mean they sit naturally alongside Halves' organic orchestration. Though relatively simple compared with other tracks here, instrumental 'Don't Send Your Kids To The Lake' is unsettling in the extreme, as anxious droning strings underpin its uncomfortable piano with tangible suspense. One of many eerily beautiful moments to be found on 'It Goes, It Goes', it's genuinely hair-raising stuff.
On the basis of this album, Halves are not only almost certainly the best post-rock outfit in Dublin, they could easily stand up beside some of the best in the world.