Album Review: Airhead / ‘For Years’ (R&S)

Airhead For Years


Mention that Airhead is a close alumni of James Blake, and you’ll think there’s an instant recipe for success already laid bare. After the opening track, the unsteady, woolly and rock-bugged electronica of “Wait” looking to pebbledash folk textures with a spirit in dilapidation, you’re confident that you’ve got Rob McAndrews’ number. Neither scenarios are as home and hosed as that. Airhead puts his brains to dried trip hop, shoegaze and post-dubstep splinters that lead categorisers a merry (well, not quite) dance.

“Milkola Bottle,” for example, flits mischievously yet wears lead weights around its ankles, and “Pyramid Lakes” scissors through a dub/rave spin cycle to tie your headphones wires into an unfathomable knot, duly loosened by slim houser, the up to the minute “Fault Line.” “Azure Race” finds electro calm having tunnelled through the overcast, symptomatic of the album having a solid song structure with juts and overhangs interfering with its perpendiculars. With Airhead’s own admission of being a manipulator when it comes to emotional activation, “Autumn” is almost disconcertingly elfin despite being crowded out with sun-blocking slabs of beats.

All the while the full extent of electronica heads down blind alleys before slowly swivelling into coherency and what’s on-trend emerges from greyscale outlines, wading through drones of feedback to find a central sweet spot on sagging shoulders.

File under: Darkstar, Mano Le Tough, Harmonimix

Matt Oliver

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