Published Jan 19, 2016With their first full-length, Tape 1 Play, Philadelphia unit Mike Pays Heat have borrowed a great deal of their twinkling minimalism from '90s emo greats like American Football, and yet each one of their compositions introduces new and dynamic elements and textures, making for an astoundingly engaging listen from front to back.
This trend of pace-shifting and morphing structures starts with opener "Living Out," which begins with an atmospheric bass riff, adding layers of clean guitars as the song progresses. It all builds to a slow crescendo with a string section, as Ian Hunter's impassioned vocals rise to a peak before shifting gears into a brief but poignant spoken word section. "Steve &" finds the band moving at a brisk pace over skittering rim clicks, following through with gorgeous chord progressions between verses layered with subtle pedaling leads.
With 13 tracks, Mike Pays Heat have compiled a weighty collection, but manage to keep the overall flow of the album paced well, employing "(Tape 2 Play)" and "(Tape 3 Play)" — the latter of which weaves subtle horns and muffled conversation to create a haunting atmosphere — to keep the album coherent feel.
"Bloom" closes the album on a powerful and memorable note, as the band flex their technical muscle and transition from the bouncy, Tiger's Jaw-esque intro into a more optimistic sound before opening up into a grand, string-focused section at the end. With Tape 1 Play, Mike Pays Heat have left a lasting impression and are most certainly off to a formidable career start. (Dead Medium)