After a steady drip of singles, Vancouver producer and multi-instrumentalist Luke Hartle's latest EP as iamforest is finally available for assessment in its entirety. Titled Bridges, the four-track EP is a quick hit of smooth, guitar-laced electronica that goes down easy. Some may find its smoothness borders on blandness, but it's undeniably a professional piece of work.
Hartle's style is well developed here, a warm mixture of electronics and ethereal guitar lines, topped off with sincere, plaintive vocals. It's tasteful stuff, building on the strengths of his 2015 self-titled full-length. There are nice touches throughout: the backwards-sounding vocal flourishes on lead single "Atoms," the soaring arpeggio that bubbles in and out of the mix on "Hollie" and the glisteningly-produced guitar-work that underpins most sections, sneaking into the foreground every now and then. Everything fits together perfectly, and the EP is frankly something of a masterclass in traditional electronic music production.
As such, it does sound a bit safe sometimes. Amid the shimmering synths and honey-dipped guitar lines, one searches in vain for personality in parts of Bridges. And while there's no shortage of vocals, there are few hooks to be found. This was perhaps never the aim, but it's doubtful they would have gone unappreciated here.
That said, it's hard not to be swept up in the lush forward momentum of these tracks, and despite being overly slick at times, the production is at least eager to please in an endearing way. Bridges is a likable EP that may be trying just a little too hard. There are worse crimes. (Independent)