Arran Arctic‘s In My Hands has a solid template that needs some expanding. His basic formula consists of gently reverbed clean electric guitar, ghostly reverbed vocals and minimalist electronic beats. It’s a very hushed sound that feels both intimate and expansive — as if you and he were all alone in a big field, playing quietly.
The problem is that after the first three excellent tracks, the lack of variation in the sound becomes tedious. I’m all for a consistent color and tone to an album, but there need to be markers to differentiate. The bright-shiny synths of closer “You Could Have It So Much Better” come off as too little too late, especially since the mood doesn’t fit the rest of the album’s brooding composure.
Another thing that helps out the beginning of the album is the prominence of finger-picking in the first two songs. The single-note melodic style fits his vocals beautifully, where strummed chord structures start to get a bit monotonous against his ghostly pipes. And with Arctic’s specific vocal style, the sung melodies don’t stick out as much as in other bands, exacerbating the back half of the CD’s problem.
If this were a five-song EP, it would be excellent; as a ten-song album it’s a bit much. I’d love to see some other instruments and sounds in his future releases. And I will be listening to those, because the first three songs show a lot of promise.