German quartet ABBY have played at the likes of Glastonbury, and appeared on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, but as yet, most people are unaware of them. Now, having signed to Island Records, they are no doubt hoping for that to change with the release of their second album.
The long instrumental introduction of ‘Hush’ doesn’t make for the greatest of starts, but things do improve slightly when the vocal kicks in despite the lyrics not being the easiest to make out. ‘Time Is Golden’ fares a great deal better – there’s a passion in the vocal performance that was sorely lacking in its predecessor, and, when combined with a fun, toe-tapping drum beat and the repetitive call of the tracks’ title, there’s little to dislike about the number on a whole.
It’s a shame therefore that the band don’t maintain the momentum and instead return back to the slower, more monotone style of things via ‘Halo’. Coming in at a little over five minutes, the song is also far longer than it needs to be and together with some rather strange instrumentation, it makes for a real mess. ‘E.M.A.’ isn’t much better, although the piano does make it a lot easier to listen to before the group take a psychedelic turn and deliver ‘Birth’ which is the worst track on the collection so far, hugely likely to be skipped over by those who give it a first listen.
After the disappointments of the last few numbers, there’s a lot riding on title track ‘Hexagon’ and, despite the lack of vocal, the dance rhythm that underscores it makes it an enjoyable piece to listen to, but it would have been nice for said rhythm to have a voice put to it. When a vocal does put in an appearance via ‘Friendly Fire’, it’s nowhere near as good as listeners might hope or want it to be, and with it sounding slightly out of sync with the instrumentation, and almost robotic in places, it struggles to prove itself as a piece that shouldn’t be ignored.
‘A Lion’s Death’ is one of the stronger numbers and makes a welcome change from the lacklustre offerings that have come before it, but the success doesn’t last long as ‘Ocean’ follows on and comes across as rather depressing, sombre and certainly not ideal for repeat listens or blasting from a stereo. With that said, the ‘ooooh’ scattered throughout the piece is quite affecting and, listened to by candlelight, might just cause a few hairs on the back of necks to stand up.
‘Hold Out’ offers up nothing particularly new or exciting although the instrumentation in particular is strong and works well while ‘Sane And High’ starts in the same manner that ‘Hush’ did, presenting, for the first minute at least, nothing more than an instrumental, and when the vocal breaks up the monotony, it’s hard to decide whether it makes things better or worse. It’s somewhat expected therefore that closer ‘Island’ won’t deliver something memorable, and in truth, it really doesn’t. Instead, there’s a stripped back little number which despite allowing the vocal performance to take centre stage, is far too slow to be enjoyable – it really does sum up the album as a whole, which can only be described as hugely disappointing.