When Raphaelle Standelle Preston isn’t busy exploring the borders of art-rock and dream-pop as the frontwoman and guitarist of BRAIDS, she dabbles in airy electronica with Alex Cowan under the name of Blue Hawaii (facebook / twitter). Their 2010 EP/mini-album Blooming Summer was one of the year’s most underrated (and under-the-radar) records. ‘In Two’, a pragmatically named pair of songs, is our first taster of the duo’s debut album proper, Untogether, due out January 21 through Arbutus Records.
If Blooming Summer had a fault, it was that the songs occasionally seemed cluttered and slightly unfocused so it’s a promising sign that, even on first listen, these new tracks seem more confident and purposeful. ‘Part I’ in particular sets out the band’s new manifesto. Where once the beats were muffled they now ring true. Preston’s voice is similarly cleaner, directing the gentle waves of sound rather than being content to simply stay afloat. ‘Part II’, meanwhile, takes the beat and runs with it, transforming into an amalgam of blissed-out pop, ambient house and Balearic grooves.