I like The Helio Sequence's new album. But I love it's older stuff. Young Effectuals remains one of the most unexplainable records I've ever heard more than a decade after it was released. Every time I put it on, I come back to the phrase "futuristic space bubbles." But if I said that to someone and they understood what I meant, even I would be surprised.
The band's sound was so thick, so layered, that it never seemed strange to see band members with a laptop playing some of the backing tracks and effects onstage. But the new material that comprised most of the band's set at Neurolux on Oct.13 isn't the same shimmering mindwarp of sound. It's more focused and controlled. So seeing the band play this material with that same onstage laptop bugged me a bit. It felt like cheating.
That feeling was offset by watching the ludicrous drum faces and exaggerated strikes of drummer Benjamin Weikel. The complexity and ferocity of his strikes are underplayed on recordings and his attack gave the new songs the band played more of an edge than on the album.
The band had no such reservations about the packed house, however.
"You all are awesome," said guitarist Brandon Summers. "This is the last night of this crazy tour we're doing for our new record and I can't imagine a better place to spend it. "
However, the most pleasant surprise of the evening was the opening set from Slowdance.
The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band dished out oodles of retro synths and melancholia, using elements of The Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees with a modern bent to find a sound somewhere between French existentialism and film of John Cusack smoking outside an '80s prom—which makes as much sense as futuristic space bubbles, I imagine.
In straight prose, Slowdance had tom-heavy, four-on-the-floor beats with watery guitars and melodic synth lines beneath somber and dark, slightly pouty female vocals. Imagine a brunette version of The Sounds. But brunette in tone, as well as appearance.
Finding out the band didn't have an album for sale at its merch booth, just an EP and a 7-inch, made this rock 'n' roller as blue as Elvis' Christmas, though singer Quay Quinn-Settle divulged that the band is currently recording, so a full-length may be on the way next year.