Singer and songwriter Matt Hales, aka Aqualung, has been doing some soul searching of late. The follow up to 2005′ s successful Strange and Beautiful, Aqualung’s Memory Man traces roots and digs into the past as Hales croons about love and finding purpose in life (“Be careful what you hope and you pray for/ You know you only get what you pay for/And I can hear the ticking of timebombs…”).
Memory Man has its heightened moments, however the majority of the 11 tracks simply feel like they are muffled under water. Breakout hits “Something to Believe In” and “Outside” are what keeps Memory Man alive. Both tracks are bright and build like a story: the verses move along nicely until an explosion of a musical chorus brings each to a close. “Black Hole” surprises when a pleasantly unexpected piano/guitar jam surfaces at the last minute. It almost seems as Hales musically interpreted the experience of falling into the infamous black abyss. There is no doubt of Aqualung’s talent- especially apparent on the Strange and Beautiful track “Brighter than Sunshine”. With a simple melody and refreshing lyrics, Hales manages to transport the listener to a different place. In comparison, lyrics on Memory Man are also strong; however, half of the album looses itself to tranquil, ethereal melodies that lack a sense of identity.