Lowpines is, essentially, the performing name British songwriter and producer Oil Deakin has adopted for several EP length releases on cassette over the last few years. A number of important BBC DJ’s have championed Deakin’s work as Lowpines and the project has garnered a bevy of critical praise as well as appearances on American television programming, and these achievements have generated a lot of momentum for Lowpines’ first full length release In Silver Halides. The nine song release carries on in the project’s established songwriting tradition of lo-fi presented recordings layered with a plethora of instrumental overdubs and there’s a near painterly quality to the construction and sound of In Silver Halides that’s impossible to ignore. His excellent choice of collaborators like producer IggyB, drummer Jamie Deakin, flutist Jesse Chandler, and mixing courtesy of Grammy-award winning producer Ted Young is the crowning touch on In Silver Halides.
The pensive guitar dueling with surrounding synth fills in the opening of “We Come Right” sets an immediate mood while remaining economical and spartan in its construction. Deakin’s melancholy, breathy vocals unwind impressionistic lyrics with welcome intimacy further underlining the musical mood. Jamie Deakin’s drumming accents the arrangement with immense taste and gives the song a stately stride that immeasurably enhances its other qualities. The elegiac, dreamlike ambiance of “We Come Right” gives way to the lean, more compact art pop of “Broken Wing”. It retains much of the same wide-eyed vocal wonder we heard on the opener as well as a penchant for multi-tracked vocals, but there’s a firmer, more assertive backbeat propelling the song forward. Acoustic guitar textures come to the fore for a first time on the song “Come On Chaos” and they’re coupled with an exquisitely distanced Deakin vocal interspersed with brief, lushly orchestrated harmony parts. The understated pulse providing percussion gradually gathers intensity and takes on more of a definite sound in the song’s second half.
The dramatic design underpinning the track “Parasite” shares many similarities with the preceding numbers; if In Silver Halides is nothing else, it is coherent and unified and the consistency of the collection is one of its more notable strengths. The slow, synth-colored jangle of this track takes on more momentum as it progresses, but retains the same artful restraint characterizing the album thus far. “Connecting the Fireflies” opens with acoustic guitar untouched by any effects, post-production or otherwise, and recorded with such intimacy listeners can hear the pick scratching the strings. It’s a beautifully muted number for much of the song’s first half before he builds the tune to a memorably majestic finale. The orchestrated quality defining a lot of Deakin’s songwriting is distinctly modern, particularly thanks to the production, but has obvious mastery of fundamentals than helps the songs connect with his audience. The surprising rock muscle of the album finale “Perfect Silence” puts an emphatic exclamation point at the end of In Silver Halides without ever sounding out of place with the preceding eight songs. It’s an impressive final statement on an album that solidifies Lowpines’ status as one of the more interesting indie projects afoot today.