February 28, 2002

Test Spin – Neil Halstead

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Neil Halstead first staked his claim in the music world with the critically acclaimed bands Slowdive and Mojave 3. On his first solo effort, Sleeping On Roads, comparisons to the ethereal-pop icon Nick Drake are inescapable. Halstead breathes his catchy and sometimes hypnotic melodies over a sea of acoustic guitars, gentle drumming, commanding trumpet, and electronic embellishments.

Somewhere between the sublime and the subliminal, songs like “Two Stones In My Pocket” float and sway on waves a great deal less forceful than the tsunami that graces the disc’s eye-friendly cover. The influences of Bert Jansch and Spiritualized are confessed, and Roads’ exquisite production testifies stunningly.

Halstead’s Drake-esque finger-picked guitar, as heard on “High Hopes,” strays from Mojave’s more strum-heavy British take on Americana. And, as with Drake, the songs at times border on the lethargic side of folky pop. Despite its fragility, however, the album is full of hummably accessible tunes to fall asleep with.

Archived article by Ben Kupstas