A long time of waiting is finally over. Just a few minutes ago, one of our Iceland favourites, the promising Indie rock band CeaseTone released their full length debut! And we were incredibly lucky to be able to listen to it already a few days before it was sent out into the world now. The album named “Two Strangers”, about which they already talked in our interview about half a year ago, made us first think of the beginning of a love story. The moment when two people meet each other, not knowing how they gonna end up. The fresh start of something new. For all the insiders of the Icelandic music scene – you might find some Agent Fresco like powerful riffs as well as romantic Axel Flóvent sounds. If you want to know how the story ends, you´ll have to read the full review. And listen to the album while reading!
Though CeaseTone was kind of a casual solo project of its mastermind Hafsteinn Þráinsson already some years ago, it is a relatively new project as a full band, with their first live performance in November 2014 at Iceland Airwaves. With the first single of the album, “Full Circle”, the band dropped a hint last September about the sound of their upcoming album: atmospheric indie rock, rich in variety with great riffs and occasional use of synthesizers. A mixture that was incredibly affecting right from the start. And “Two strangers” is easily able to keep this high level.
The first song “Two Roads” is like an introduction, showing the soundscape with all facets the album offers. The beautiful, longing guitar theme fades in from the very distance, is joint by Haffi’s fragile singing until the overwhelmingly powerful synthies drop in. Barely three minutes into the album and we’re already blown away by astonishment. Following up is “Sight of your Life” which is a dreamy, emotional song, strongly present through another proof of the versatility of CeaseTone: a violin accompanied by the acoustic guitar. “Full Circle” is the first single of the album and you will know why this was the perfect choice after you heard it: You might imagine yourself dreaming about being far away but really close to who you really are. The vibe of the song feels perfectly right from the first tunes, with a memorable melody going down into the amazing riff of the rock-like part, back to the very melodic sound. “The Bright Side” is not only a great indie pop song with nice vocals both female and male and moreover the third single, but we also recommend to watch the amazing video that Haffi created hand-made with scissors, his camera and a lot of patience. “Ain´t Sleeping Alright” is, besides “Full circle”, the real hymn of the album. Getting rid of people that are not good for you and the dream of having a free mind without anything bothering you. It´s the daily life struggle that sometimes really holds us back from what we really would love to do. “Cause we´re a bunch of fools, just trying to get by.” “Brighter Nights” is kind of an interlude in the middle of the album, a beautifully arranged one-and-a-half minute guitar piece, and marks the end of the first side and the transition to the second half.
“Darker Days” first continues with silent guitar sounds but at the same time is driven by a progressing beat that ocassionally develops into walls of sounds – the song does not only remind us of the dark Icelandic winters with barely 5 hours of daylight. It might also stand for the loneliness everyone has experienced once. Embracing the dark and the pain, this song will help you to get “through the lonely road”. With a glimpse of hope in the end: “I promise you my dear, we will run out of here”. Likewise, “Lo-Fi” is a song that also offers an amazing development. Haffi’s reverberating vocals ascend towards a furious finish dominated by high pitched electronic guitar sounds. With 6:19 “Humble History Song” is the longest track of the album, a great mid-tempo indie-rock song that shines with nice e-guitar parts, both hymnic and cheerful and phantastic strings. Finally the title song “Two Strangers” is closing the album with that old speaker sound and an acoustic guitar. It’s a beautifully quiet closing that leaves us sitting there with the goosebumps that we had during the whole about 40 minutes before.
“Two Strangers” tells the touching story of love and life while leading you through all ups and downs. We don´t really want to put a label on it or categorize the sound. It’s an impressive mix between slow and fast melodies, minimalistic to multi-instrumental parts, organic and electronic sounds, strings, piano and synthies, crowned by Haffi’s amazing vocals. And it’s a good bet for one of the best indie rock albums from Iceland this year. The passion and effort the band has put into this album can be heard in every single beat.
photos © CeaseTone