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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Sep 23rd, 2014

Angus & Julia Stone: Angus & Julia Stone

angus & juliaAngus & Julia Stone
Angus & Julia Stone
(American Recordings)

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After a few years focusing on solo material, siblings Angus and Julia Stone enlisted the help of mega-producer Rick Rubin to help them come together for their third LP as a duo. The result is a mostly solid record with a few lulls along the way.

Angus’ delivery has the confidence of Devendra Banhart without the tremble, while Julia’s voice nearly trips out of her control with the versatility and niche appeal of Martha Wainwright. Together, the siblings complement one another well, but after years away, Angus & Julia Stone is not nearly as ambitious as its hour running time would imply. Many of the songs are sprawling but aimless, reminiscent of the Laurel Canyon folk scene after a bit of MDMA. In particular, “Other Things,” a passive-aggressive portrait of an argument left to fester, would have been better left on the cutting room floor.

However, there are many moments of quiet build done right. “Grizzly Bear” has an ‘80s danceability and is a charming portrait of wanting to spend more time with another person. Lead single “Heart Beats Slow” is a surprise as a heartbreak song filled with only well wishes. On “Death Defying Acts,” plaintive guitar backs up Julia’s voice as she trips from showing off her range to near spoken-word. The resulting vulnerability and bravery play off the lyrics to provide the album with one of its finest moments.

If you like your alt and folk with enough of a beat to dance (or at least sway), then Angus & Julia Stone will be right up your street. Despite some evident growing pains in coming back together, the siblings have a bright future should they continue to collaborate.

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Angus & Julia Stone: Angus & Julia Stone