Andrew McFarland has produced a strong, cohesive debut for his solo project, Semicircle. Across the album’s 10 tracks, McFarland, who also plays drums in Reptar, demonstrates his talents as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. The record’s greatest strength, however, lies in its full arrangements and lush atmosphere.
“Movement Is Calm” begins with McFarland singing over a single repeated piano note. Soon, guitar and drums come in, and the piano line mutates into a more complex figure. The song’s climax comes in the form of a brazen horn line sounding out over the chorus. On “Remember Me,” the bombast is even more direct. It’s a straightforward, guitar-driven pop song, the vocal melody split into an affecting two-part harmony.
McFarland’s songwriting benefits from volume. “Southern Spring” and “Easier” are fine songs, with pleasant, fingerpicked guitar and endearing melodies, but with similar songs like “Underground River of Glass” and “Stranger” receiving the full band treatment, these sparse numbers come off like missed opportunities. Then again, the lulls help prepare the listener for the peaks to come.
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