Canadian duo Hawaii move through a handful of styles on their self-titled debut for Paper Bag, playing their dusky trips through the dream pop wires off rustic, atmospheric indie rock, and building a dynamic between the hushed vocals of Sam Goldberg and Samantha Terry's Hope Sandoval-ish breathlessness. And while it doesn't work all the time, there's plenty to recommend. Opener "Shooting Star" is a little bit a of a nonstarter; its Milky Way lilt and layered guitars are nice, but not memorable. However, "Sleeping In" is really strong, with Terry's beguiling delivery echoing between rangy acoustic guitars. "Break You" utilizes that simplistically cool touch Luna did so well (and even suggests the melody of the Troggs' "Love Is All Around"), while "On a Train" reaches back to the trippy reverb and basslines of the Stone Roses, crossing its loopy groove with fluttering sheets of electric guitar noise. There are moments of filler on Hawaii, where the meticulously layered production seems to overtake the song ("Beautiful Storm," for example). But for the most part, Hawaii finds its own voice inside its influences. Their debut is another promising release from Paper Bag, the Toronto imprint responsible for Broken Social Scene and Stars.
by Johnny Loftus