The title of Blue Hawaii’s debut full-length serves as a thesis statement for the lyrical content and emotional themes that it explores. Untogether. The not-quite-a-word encapsulates the separation anxiety and emotional disconnect expressed in the project, written long-distance by Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alexander Cowan.
Standell-Preston first made her mark as the voice behind BRAIDS, and her stand-out voice leads you though this music as well, at times sweetly soft and others emphatically dramatic. The theme of identity comes up early in “Try to Be”, dealing with the struggle of living up to self-imposed dreams and expectations. How can you reconcile never living up to the perfect, composed ideal you have for yourself? The solution in the chorus is beautifully simple and something that everyone should follow: “May as well just be me.”
The instrumentals add to the impression that you’re wading through a thigh-high swamp of conflicted emotions. Repetitious grooves and woozy synths engulf you in a cavernous reflection place, before thrusting you into a swirl of hip-shaking dance.
The dance element came on strong during their performance at Wavelength Thirteen, but things are more restrained in this recorded version. Some moments of undeniable motion happen (“In Two II”, and more subtle sways in “Daisy” and “Sierra Lift”), but the rest of the album concerns itself with mood creation and ethereal contemplation.
There’s a huge versatility to this duo; sit at home with the record and absorb their emotional reflections, and then go dance out those insecurities at their live show.
Untogether is out today via Arbutus.
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*
Top Tracks: “Try To Be”, “Sierra Lift”, “Flammarion”