Heaps Search for an Identity on Promising 'What Is Heaps'

Heaps Search for an Identity on Promising 'What Is Heaps'
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What exactly is Heaps? While the album title here isn't explicitly a question, it's still something worth asking. The band formerly known as the Kents have a new name, a new record and a brand new identity. In many ways, it's a fresh start for the Ontario band, as they trade in much of their upbeat indie pop approach from their Kents days for a more introspective and exploratory art rock style. Here, Heaps embrace an expanded sonic palette, more mature lyricism and ultimately a big step forward as a band.

Looking back on their EPs as the Kents, this reinvention doesn't seem particularly shocking. Older tracks off Within Waves like "Distant" and "Is There Anyone?" foreshadow the dense soundscapes and production flourishes on What Is Heaps tracks like "Softly" or "Hazy Shores." Their pop smarts still remain, as seen on "You Were Here" or "So Soon," and some of their strengths like Warren Frank's vocals and a great rhythm section continue to drive the band forward.

With this kind of change in direction, growing pains are almost inevitable, and What Is Heaps is no exception. The record lacks the consistently strong songwriting and the confidence of their past EPs, but that can be easily forgiven given the band's position in uncharted territory. While What Is Heaps doesn't quite have the staying power of the group's strongest material, it will be interesting to see where they end up as they continue to evolve.

What is Heaps is a record from a group in the midst of change. It's the sound of a band growing in real time, complete with all the ups and downs of redefining its core sound. It has its hits and it has its misses, but it's still growth in the end. (Birthday Cake)