Now, Not Yet – half-alive

This album is the kind of work I could gush over as a music theory guy, but its complexity is oh so very accessible. It’s got this Bastille/Sir Sly vibe, but it’s jam-packed full of complex jazz chords, Jacob Collier-style vocal harmonies, interesting rhythms, and Japanese Breakfast-esque engaging sound effects. They hit you with polytonality out the gate in the excellent waltz hymn “ok ok?”, but if you want to really get hopped up on harmony, you’re going to want to check out “ice cold. (with Kimbra)”, which relies on chords from completely different scales throughout the song and makes a tritone vamp sound bright and positive. (The refrain transitions between Am and Db.) The standout on this album is, of course, “still feel.”, with its epic bass drop built on linear chord motion, its picked-bass/percussion interplay, the impossible-to-replicate synth work, and the end chorus’ horns over that beautiful tambourine. There are a whole lot of sounds on this album, but it doesn’t feel gimmicky- half-alive is consciously painting a portrait of humanity as a part of nature, giving the impression that all of god’s creatures have shown up at the studio to make music. It’s friendly, majestic, and all-over-the-place, but it is the musical equivalent of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. “creature” is the album’s thesis statement, explaining the band’s philosophy of Christian humanism with the waltz anthem a topic like this deserves- I’d compare it to “Love Reign O’er Me” or “Addict With A Pen”, but with more comfort. I absolutely love every single song on this album, and it’s really encouraging to hear this level of complexity from a successful pop band.

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