Helio Sequence's third, ambitiously self-produced release is beautiful music for an ugly world. The Portland space-rock duo has created orchestrally textured, instrumentally happy little songs about society's enslavement by corporations. The album presents a truly off-putting dichotomy; one wishes the music matched Brandon Summers' rock vocals and the intensity of the lyrics, or, conversely, that the singer would just shut up. It would be easy to get lost in the convolutions of synthesized layers if the band wasn't so busy trying to make political statements. Love and Distance is less self-indulgent and more balanced than their previous albums' attempts at avant-garde, though. They've also added quirky touches like harmonica solos that keep them from being just another shoegazing act, and it's obvious that touring with Modest Mouse and being on a bigger independent label has influenced their more mature sound. Helio Sequence is moving in the right direction, but it might be another album or two before they reach their full potential.
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