Half Acre Day – Fourteen Trips Around the Sun

Half Acre Day
Fourteen Trips Around the Sun

It’s not immediately clear where Seattle’s Half Acre Day hope to land with their new album Fourteen Trips Around the Sun. Maybe land isn’t the right word – after all, this album’s songs focus on various inhabitants of the oceans just as much as they focus on astronauts and outer space. It’s all quite quirky and a bit whimsical, while still coming off as serious music. If you were to remove the vocals from this collection of songs you’d have a fairly normal set of tunes, but with them it’s a different story altogether.

Each member of Half Acre Day is given vocal credits and they know how to weave some lovely harmonies. The quintet’s opening track, “Anemones”, works the harmony in softly and makes great use of the keys and reminds me of Weezer or the Fruit Bats. There is something here – even in just the first song alone – that almost immediately makes me wonder how a band like this has been together for at least a decade and not made bigger waves.

While all of the songs on Fourteen Trips Around the Sun are enjoyable, fifteen tracks seem a little much for this adventure. Some of them, like “Dead Man’s Hill”, “Turning Into Stars”, and “Stay on Target” just don’t have that same something really, really special. They’re good, but not great. Maybe it’s not worth bellyaching about a couple tracks that aren’t as great as the rest, but in this digital music age I think we’ve all become super critical when listening to a full album.

“BIOTA” has a similar feel to the first track – it’s soft, but upbeat and the lyrics about aliens keep the quirkiness factor rising with little blips. “Astronauts” starts out very folky, before picking up the pace about halfway through. This song feels very much like a The Mollusk era Ween song, with lyrics like, Make friends with the dolphin and don’t ever fight, because no matter what the dolphin’s always right…because you see they’re known to be quite bright.

Another of the phenomenal songs is “Showers”. It’s not clear which bandmate sings the lead here, but his smokier voice suits the song perfectly. This is the kind of beautiful song you expect to hear on the soundtrack of an indie film. I think it’s the same voice on “Dawn is Breaking”, a song that has a strangely gospel feel unlike anything else on this disc. The last song, “The S.S. Stewart” is upbeat and fun, and ends the album on a high note.

Half Acre Day is a band that should finally be taken note of. It’s easy to imagine they have a good following in the Pacific Northwest, but us East Coasters have been without this weird and wonderful pop-rock for too long. If you enjoy a band that makes serious music while keeping a sense of humor in tact, look no further then Fourteen Trips Around the Sun for your fix.