Breathe the Heartbeat

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While Orange County's Glider seemed to go under the radar for most of the early 21st century after some sharp early releases, the shoegaze-inspired-and-proud-of-it act continued to regularly record and contribute work here and there, resulting in this catchall of a compilation covering tracks from 2003 to 2008. Though not designed or intended to be a stand-alone album as such, Breathe the Heartbeat is still a lovely listen in its own right -- if anything, given how strongly shoegaze as such has shifted toward a more specifically electronic sound, Glider's generally (though by no means exclusively) rock-based arrangements stand out a little more strongly than they might have done ten years back, while the prominent use of piano on many tracks adds a further twist to the proceedings. Beginning with the contemplative instrumental "Floating," Breathe moves back and forth between vocal numbers (with lead figure Brian Evans tending toward an understated approach for the most part, as on "Passing") and instrumentals. Sometimes the titles perfectly capture the approach used -- "Sunlight," with its sparkling piano part and swooping, distanced vocals sounding like an angelic keen, certainly feels like a stellar dawn -- while three separate mixes of "Over the Ocean" find the band embracing a clattering mayhem more reminiscent of early Third Eye Foundation than anything else. Then there are moments that simply just surprise by upending other assumptions about the band -- the piano starting "Movement 3" could almost be a riff on Mike Post's Hill Street Blues theme, though the extended guitar drones that swell in the background are definitely the band's own sound.

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