Half Cousin are the kind of band that you’d be happy to play to your parents. Charming, homemade percussion samples underline a quiet electronic collage of colourful melodies and manipulated sounds, while lead protagonist Kevin Cormack’s distinctive Orcadian-accent is used to smooth over the instrumentation’s rough edges. Iodine – Half Cousin’s sophomore effort – is, essentially, pop music; and strange pop music at that.
Half Cousin’s ramshackle charm is best heard on opener ‘Big Chief (The B&B Frequenter)’. On this track the band utilise instrumentation in a different way to the norm – coat hangers on clarinets, drumming on biscuit tins and bedsprings. You’d be wrong in thinking that Half Cousin are just more wayward experimentalists, though – they’re not. ‘Big Chief...’ gives experimentalism a tune which is often missing from such music. As junkyard arrangements go, this is brilliant – catchy, engrossing, and beguiling.
The record keep keeps its rough homemade feel throughout, but that doesn’t stop its makers straying from the sound of ‘Big Chief…’. ‘Charity’ brings together folk and electronica (folktronica!), while ‘The Absentee’ sounds like the abrasive electronics of Björk's recent work with the vocals of Welsh songwriter Euros Childs. Iodine is a wonderfully diverse record.
However, it never really gets going in the way that its opener suggests. The production suffers from sounding flat, and although the instrumentation is undeniably lovely, the songs are marred by their focus on individual sounds rather than the bigger picture of songwriting.
Half Cousin are well worth a listen, but some may find that Iodine is a little too understated for its own good.
7Ben Yates's Score