With their much-acclaimed debut album Dark Eyes, Canadian trio Half Moon Run remoulded the stock indie format, allowing the band to explore texture, mood and atmosphere while retaining just enough familiarity to stay radio-friendly. It’s therefore a shame that their second album is, as a whole, decidedly less remarkable than their debut.
Whatever was present in so much of Dark Eyes to stir, move and entice is mostly lacking on Sun Leads Me On. The first fifteen minutes barely register; indeed, at this point it sounds as if any other band could have written the opening section of the album. This doesn’t last, however, and a few tunes dotted around the mid-section beginning with ‘Hands In The Garden’ prove Half Moon Run are still worth their salt. With the aforementioned, a relatively simple arrangement is bolstered by an earnest vocal delivery from lead singer Devon Portielje, with backing vocals pinched straight from Pet Sounds. Safe, yes – but affecting nonetheless.
‘Turn Your Love’ sees more of a throwback to Dark Eyes – the atmospheric intricacy of the verses demonstrates the band are still able to push the boundaries of creativity, although a rather banal chorus somewhat stalls the momentum. The aptly titled ‘It Works Itself Out’ provides the album with its apex, though arguably only because it also sounds so much like their debut. Still, deft and subtle shifts in temperament guide the song to its cathartic final chorus, in which Portielje’s falsetto provides the album with a moment of unadulterated quality. Despite these moments, the album as a whole suffers from a general sense of inconsistency, not helped by the strange juxtaposition of country-flavoured ditty ‘Devil May Care’, and synth-laden ‘Trust’ that, with its four-to-the-floor drum beat and saccharine vocal wails, sounds desperately out of place. Elsewhere, and apart from those already mentioned, much of the album fades into a restrained and forgettable background and, while not outright offending, it rarely ventures into the imaginative territory of its predecessor.