In the renowned film Days of Heaven, director Terrence Malick opted to shoot the picture exclusively at The Magic Hour, that thin slice of time right before the sun sets and the world slips into a lazy, hazy spell. I wouldn’t be surprised if Memoryhouse’s recording techniques on The Slideshow Effect
mirrored this somehow. The vague ambience and mellifluous delivery suggest so, and it’s this effect (the slideshow effect, perhaps?) that becomes the focal point of Memoryhouse’s second full-length; and the album is all the better for this clear theme and consistent execution of it. The Toronto duo is no stranger to haziness though, evidenced by their chillwave (is this still an acceptable term in 2012?) The Years
EP. In what has been a lovely progression, Memoryhouse has ditched much of the overwhelming chillwavey-ness (less looping and synth, clearer vocals), held onto the interesting songwriting prowess, and added a heap of poppiness and catchiness in their more straight-laced indie effort.
Even if nothing on The Slideshow Effect
quite reaches the likes of a track like “To The Lighthouse” from The Years, the album is better for it with its uninterrupted flow, timing, and organization. That being said, don’t discredit Memoryhouse for a lack of standouts, here. “Little Expressionless Animals,” “All Our Wonder,” and the repetitive “Bonfire” could all make easy cases for this title. One thing that strings these together is Denise Nouvion’s mellifluous voice, the mainstay here. The oooo’s and ahhh’s and sweet little lines seem to ooze with ease from her lips and her ability to make a song entrancing without much of a range shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s aspects like this that make chillwave (former) peers like Toro y Moi and Washed Out feel farther away than before because of their danciness and exuberance compared with Memoryhouse’s relative vagueness and aura of indifference. Awash in nostalgia and blithe, Memoryhouse are masters of creating warmth and relaxation. Not to be mistaken for slothful though, The Slideshow Effect
displays an addition of energy into the equation, evidenced by tracks like “The Kids Were Wrong,” a highlight with its bouncy guitar lines. It brings a cinch of dynamism to the forefront, a usually-lacking factor for the band.
On the other hand, what can
be a bit overwhelming is this same aura, the one that is both The Slideshow Effect
’s main focus and primary draw. When everything from the album art, the track and album names, the mood and timbre, and lyrics all match so closely, one can’t help but feel a bit walloped by mellifluosity and chillness. Some type of stylistic complement would have been a helpful addition in order to ensure the listener doesn’t drown in all that water Memoryhouse floods their album covers with to correspond with the atmosphere. Still, don’t count out The Slideshow Effect
when considering the coolest albums of the year. The most obvious comparison in this respect is Beach House, who’ve released a strikingly similar (though oddly to much more acclaim) album in Bloom
, but this displays Memoryhouse carving out a little slice of happiness all to their own. Get into it while there’s still a glimmer of spring coolness in the evening air and enjoy The Slideshow Effect
, preferably to its fullest extent at that Magic Hour.