After strumming as touring guitarist for James Blake, Rob McAndrews, the man behind Airhead, expands by tracking post-dubstep melodies of his own. His debut album, For Years, reveals McAndrews as a DJ with potential, but he must develop stronger concentration for his sound to transcend to new heights.
Tracks like “Wait” display an adventurous spirit. The beginning crackles with the seething croons of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O while McAndrews manipulates the progression with swirling background stutters. As the track evolves with clicking drum machine flair that resembles Blake’s “Unluck”, McAndrews lays down textured acoustic guitar tones that flourish into a symphony of electric guitars in the song’s climax.
Elsewhere, soothing vocals contribute to some of the records strongest tracks. Angelic melodies combine with layers of harmonies to form a soothing atomphere, especially on “Autumn”, a hazy and intense electronic dream. “Callow” gains its most suspenseful moments from the peak of the female vocalist’s falsetto rather than a typical wobbling bass drop.
These songs captivate on the first listen, but For Years falls short when it loses focus, often darting between despairing and upbeat tones without concrete transitions. “Azure Race” squirms between dreary keyboard droning and an animated club beat. If one sound was given the spotlight, it would be easier to follow. ”Pyramid Lake” highlights this solidified foundation, featuring vocal shrieks behind smooth synthesizer that gradually shifts into deeper minor scales as the song progresses. The focus here stands in stark contrast to the underdeveloped transitions and overflow of ideas elsewhere.
Overall, McAndrews’ solo endeavor is a strong first impression that explores post-dubstep twists and turns in awe-inspiring fashion, though over saturation in places makes the record difficult to completely comprehend. Using the knowledge he displays here, hopefully McAndrews’ future work will focus on his strengths.
Essential Tracks: “Wait”, “Autumn”