Though Eight and a Half’s formation precedes The Stills’ dissolution, it’s tempting to interpret these songs- from the melan-cholic desolation of “Scissors,” to where-did-it-all-go-wrong self-examination of “Go Ego,” to the turn-a-new-leaf pledge “The Turn Around” - as a direct response to their demise. But the vulnerability, doubt and resignation embedded in Hamelin’s voice and words are easily transferrable to anyone who’s invested years of their life into something special only to watch it vanish in an instant.
Hamelin’s recovery process- as well as Eight and a Half’s own evolution from piecemeal recording project into proper flesh-and-blood band - is mirrored in the album’s sequential shift from darkness to light: what begins as a chilly, claustrophobic and insular experience gradually opens up into a widescreen, kaleidoscopic splendor, spanning the mountainous surge of “A Train to India,” the exuberant digital psychedelia of “Two Points” and the climactic/ecstatic curtain closer “Oh, My Head.”
This is not a side project. This is not a couple of friend’s dicking around on weekends. Eight and a Half is a new, very realband. These numbers don’t lie.