This follow-up to their 2005 debut full-length, The Loving Sounds of Static, finds the Mobius Band yes, less ‘static-y’ than before, but also more upbeat. That comes as something of a surprise, considering that in the interval, one member’s father died, and one had his girlfriend run off with another friend. But singer/guitarist Ben Sterling and singer/bassist Peter Sax carried on forward, with the help of drummer Noam Schatz’s ‘circuit bends’ – toy keyboards whose insides have been intentionally short-circuited to create new sounds. Heaven is definitely heavier on the electronic side than on the rock one, sometimes a step or two too heavy, but overall, the mix works quite well.
That mix gets a winning display right off the bat, with Heaven’s opener (and likely first single), “Hallie”. Catchy and bright, but not overly bright, “Hallie” provides a strong uplift that carries on throughout much of the album. Mobius Band puts alternative guitars and electronic keys together in rather different, but no less successful, way in the following “Secret Language”, marrying dance-tronic with anthemistic indie-rock. These twin threads crisscross their way through Heaven, though the well-balanced rock/tronic mix of “Hallie”, “Language”, and middle track “Friends Like These” can slip a little too far into the electronic on other tracks, such as “A Hint of Blood” and “Leave the Keys In the Door”.
In the second half of Heaven, however, some sadness finally makes its way in, most powerfully with “Tie A Tie”. Slower and sadder than much that preceded it, it is also effective and moving, a great combo of sad indie-rock and sad lappop. The too-tronic problem does occasionally poke its head up in the second half as well, like with the too electronic to also be an anthem “Control”, and especially the too-cute-by-half “Black Spot”. The weakest song on the record, “Spot” is grating at times, forgettable at others, but even it picks up with a big build at the end. That build leads into Heaven’s superb closer, “I Am Always Waiting”, whose atmospheric effects are bolstered by strong drumming and excellent guitars.
Mobius Band has always been something of chimera, with its urban-cum-rural roots, dual singers, each member being a keyboardist/something else, and even the group’s very name (an Orbital album meets a seventies folk-rock supergroup). Heaven is no exception, but what’s important is that pairing works. There are times when the record relies a little too much on keyboards and not enough on guitars, but there’s no doubting that this is a strong album.
MP3 Stream: "Secret Language"