Neil Halstead: Oh! Mighty Engine

Artist: Neil Halstead

Album: Oh! Mighty Engine, Brushfire Records

 

Six years after his solo debut, former shoegazing frontman for Slowdive, Neil Halstead, has finally released his second album Oh! Mighty Engine brimming with twilight acoustic pop.

The album initially washes over you like a New York coffeehouse open mic singer with Halstead’s mumbling, breathy vocals frothing alongside rolling harmonies on tracks like “Sometimes the Wheels” that are too subtle to standout. But his blurriness is sharpened on tracks like numinous “Witless or Wise” and the coiling “Paint a Face”. The subtly scorching, folksy serenade “Little Twig” burns a place in your chest with endearing schoolboy lyrics like “I’m counting all the steps right back to you. Little twig, you are a fig”.

Halstead also solidifies his beard’s status as a legend (seriously, it puts Zach Galifianakis to shame) on the album’s closing track “Baby, I Grew You a Beard” which, despite its effortless saccharine melodies, would probably freak even the most indie girl in Williamsburg. Oh! Mighty Engine has the potential to become the soundtrack to snoozy summer nights, waxing and waning between a swelling flame and the afterglow.

Key Tracks: “Little Twig”, “Witless or Wise”, “Paint a Face”

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Published in the January 2011 issue of Rolling Stone Australia.