Blue Hawaii

Untogether

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

While there was no lack of ethereal electronic projects hailing from Canada in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Blue Hawaii still made their own niche within this musical territory. As the title of their first full-length album suggests, Alexander Cowan and Raphaelle Standell-Preston made Untogether largely apart from each other. This separation makes itself felt in these songs' somber sleekness, which is a far cry from the tropical warmth of their debut EP, Blooming Summer. Yet the real and implied distance on Untogether allowed the members of Blue Hawaii to step up their respective games: Cowan's soundscapes are crisply elegant, and Standell-Preston delivers restrained performances that are worlds away from her rapturous work with Braids. The former single "In Two" and its counterpart "In Two II" represent Untogether at its finest: atmospheric yet tight, with subtle moods driven by graceful rhythms. Blue Hawaii spend most of the album crafting reflective songs that range from confessional ("Try to Be") to alluring ("Yours to Keep"), but every now and then the duo throws listeners a curve, as on the glamorous, beat-driven "Flammarion," which gets closer to the dancefloor than any other song here. Untogether's aloof beauty comes as something of a surprise given how free-flowing and whimsical Blooming Summer was, but while this change takes some getting used to, it's an impressive debut from a group that has taken the time -- and space -- to refine and develop its sound.

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