Airhead: For Years

[13 August 2013]

By Gary Suarez

Crack a window.

Rob McAndrews, best known as a relative unknown orbiting the quizzically successful, electronic pseudo-pop Briton James Blake, has every reason to want out of his pal’s sallow shadow. Once labelmates at the enduring R&S imprint, only Airhead remains there now, and for damn good reason. Though operating with a similarly melancholy ethos as Blake, McAndrews’ take is tepid like air-cooling bathwater, disposable with the flick of a drain switch.

A quiet clamor, with all the charm of a downmarket frisée, For Years favors sound design over songcraft, its sullen atmospheres betrayed by gaseous mass. Tumescent folktronica (“Autumn”, “Wait”) and waiting room trip-hop (“Azure Race”, “Callow”) feel like jewels of denial against the deliberately detuned “Masami” or the carnival barf of “Pyramid Lake”. The mechanical rote techno thump of “Fault Line” clatters around a vocal ghost in the whirring machine. It’s all so well-meaning and utterly meaningless.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/174284-airhead-for-years/