At Home marks local Montreal duo Clay & Alex’s debut release and, as the title suggests, is an eight-song album recorded entirely in their apartment.
The opener, “Hot Shame,” leads the album off on a relatively calm, yet hopeful note, with something that sounds like a mixture of Bon Iver and Simon and Garfunkel, with a George Harrison-style guitar lead thrown in later on. However, the excitement is diluted by next two songs, “A Million Places” and “Kids,” which drag a bit. The vocal harmonies and dynamics are beautiful, but the slow finger picking and dreary tones make it feel like a sleepy dream, instead of propelling the album forward.
Fourth track “All I Want” picks the album back up and introduces some of the album’s catchiest melodies. The clapping during the verse carries the arrangement and encourages you tap along. Following that there’s “Make it to Summer” and “Mom,” which, for the most part, maintain the characteristic dream like feel from before, but add a handful of new things; the former building on a bouncy waltz beat and the latter, a neat upbeat electric guitar melody.
Album closer “Fight” starts off with an infectious gospel soul style vocal arrangement that set the stage for a big finale. However, when expected to hit its peak, Clay & Alex slow the song down until it ends abruptly, leaving much to be desired.
As a whole, the snappier sections are more enjoyable because they contained more memorable moments while the slower sections seemed to lack punctuation.
The entire album is pleasant to listen to and features some fantastic songwriting. It isn’t the most groundbreaking release, but that’s not what it’s meant to be. At Home could benefit from more variety, but demonstrates solid potential for whatever comes next from Clay & Alex.