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They Kind of Shine

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Paul Hiraga's third album as Downpilot establishes him as a mature singer/songwriter and producer. Artists usually face their difficult test on the second album, which is when they feel tempted to try out every studio trick they have learned. In Hiraga's case, number three was the make-or-break hurdle, because he built his own studio from scratch before starting to record it. He could have put in it everything and the kitchen sink, he could have spent months polishing every detail, but luckily, he didn't. In fact, They Kind of Shine retains a good level of immediacy and spontaneity, of simplicity, too, although the quiet arrangements and vocal harmonies are well thought-out and gorgeous. His voice and songs still strongly bring to mind Chris Cacavas (especially on songs like "All the Ghosts Will Walk" and "In the Morning") and fit in nicely alongside other modern-day alt-country/roots rock singers. Hiraga's lyrics are generally intelligent and take a different approach on the usual topics. His melodies are not of the "instantly catchy" type, but two or three listens will engrave them in your head. The opening track, "All the Ghosts Will Walk," is the pick of the album and a perfect example of Downpilot's M.O.: sweet-and-sour melody with supportive backing vocals (from Jeff Brown), acoustic arrangements, and a touch of Americana. On "Rider," that last trait is emphasized by the pedal steel of guest Maggie Bjorklund, a nice touch -- there's mandoline elsewhere, and Fender Rhodes, too. There is a lot to like about this album, and its comfortable timelessness may be at the top of the list. ~ François Couture, Rovi