Coastal

Halfway to You

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Perhaps best thought of as a post-gaze band -- gaze short for shoegaze, though there's audibly as much of Low's deceptively calm drama as there is of late Slowdive or quieter Cocteau Twins -- Coastal explore a winning-enough vein of sound on their releases. Much like the similarly Utah-formed quartet Landing, a husband-and-wife couple on guitar, keyboards, and shared vocals -- Jason and Luisa Gough -- form its core, but unlike that band's extended instrumental meditations, on Halfway to You, Coastal's second effort, the emphasis is on gentle reflection and steady, subtle arrangements. It's the touches like the polite backwards guitar on "Until You Sleep" and the final solo notes on "We Won't Last Another Year" that define the band's sound, and that more than once suggest, obliquely, the similarly understated but essential elements that the underrated Spain showed on their albums. The guest turns on Halfway to You add just the right impact as a result -- Megan Lloyd's violin part on "Eternal" comes across as a mysterious, keening call in the mix, while Helen Maltby's turn on viola for "So Close" adds a gentle texture to the extended coda. That said, some of the performances almost work better as examples of lovely sounding passages that aren't necessarily the most memorable as songs -- something like "Leaves," while very beautiful, is more a slow mood piece than anything else. Then again, on a brief instrumental song like "Night Sky," the balance is just perfect, a soft transitional piece that maintains the mood and lingers in just the right way over the course of the album. Also, naming a song "Drift" and living up to it perfectly shows that Coastal know how to press just the right buttons for those listeners in love with this sound.

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