Heavens

Patent Pending

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The musical collaboration of Heavens was born when Josiah Steinbrick (ex-F-Minus) played some instrumental tracks he had previously laid down to his housemate Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio fame). Excited by the music's potential, they began working together, the latter penning lyrics, and after fleshing everything out with producer Ben Lovett in the studio -- who did an excellent job bringing it all together -- the duo's striking debut, Patent Pending, was complete. Twice removed from the punk dominating their other respective bands, and riddled with the influence of Depeche Mode, Brian Eno and the Sisters of Mercy, the album is a shadowy, somber collection of songs that relies heavily on synths and drum programming, and which would serve well as the backdrop to a solitary, midnight stroll through a quiet, misty cemetery. As always, Skiba's brooding sentiments fall in the realm of the murderous, disturbing, and otherworldly. His voice is an absolute perfect match for Steinbrick's dark instrumental musings, singing in a much lower register than the norm for Alkaline Trio. But Skiba in no way carries the whole project himself, as the yin to his yang is the impressive songwriting of Steinbrick, who has provided a canvas of crisp, austere soundscapes that are extremely clean, yet not overly produced. The arrangements are methodical and engaging, whether in the despondence driving the string-laden "Heather," the lively programming and paranormal harmonies of the title track, or the ominous post-punk stalking of "Watching You." As if one really expected any less from this partnering of musicians, Patent Pending is an accomplished album and one of the most rewarding listens you'll find all year.

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