Following the release of their last album (Love And Diagrams), The Helio Sequence were riding high, having quit their day jobs to tour and support the release full time. They played shows with Blonde Redhead, Modest Mouse, Kings Of Leon, and Secret Machines, and somewhere along they way, singer Brandon Summers started losing his voice. He deadened the pain with various liquors and kept soldiering on, and when the tour ended he was told by a doctor that his vocal cords were nearly shot.
This cued his own inspirational training montage of getting up early, vocal exercises, and a general routine that looked like anything but what you'd expect from a rockstar. He got his voice back, and in the past couple years has teamed up with band-mate Benjamin Weikel to create what is easily their most focused and polished release to date. Although songs largely still fall into sort of a spacey tinged pop/rock feel, the group has whittled down the length of their work resulting in a brief ten song affair that comes in under forty minutes.
With multiple layers of chiming guitar and a crisp beat, album opener "Lately" sounds like something that could have come off a recent Walkmen album (albeit with slightly more muted vocals), while "Can't Say No" pushes into an almost 80s influenced area, with washes of sparking synths coming down around the guitars. Moving in a completely different direction, "Shed Your Love" and "Broken Afternoon" feel very much like more spectral and less country-fied versions of a Band Of Horses song.
Only the super rough album closer sing-along "No Regrets" breaks through the super-clean recording sheen, and the short track feels more like a tagged-on bonus track than something that fits cohesively with the release proper. It seems like in the process of tightening up their sound, the group also left out some of the more over-the-top qualities that inhabited their past releases. Keep Your Eyes Ahead sounds a lot more warm, but at the same time is more safe as well. I've mentioned a lot of groups in comparison above, and I suppose that's not an entirely bad thing depending on what you're looking for. The group doesn't sound like anyone in particular, but instead sound like a very comfortable and smooth buffet-grab of many. Once the writers strike is over, you'll be hearing this in televion shows for sure.