I was a big fan of Coastal's debut self-titled album that came out a couple years ago. It was a sublime mixture of subtle instrumentation and great vocal melodies, and like Low and other bands before it, seemed to do so much with a lesser amount of parts than most bands use (not only instrumentally, but dynamically, etc). Halfway To You is the second album from the group, and while it moves in many of the same directions musically, I just don't find myself being drawn in my it as much.
Music is such a subjective beast that in terms of explaining subtle differences, it's hard to pin down exactly why I prefer one album by a group over another, but after listening to Halway To You many times I think it simply comes down to the tracks not being as engaging melodically as the first disc from the group. The disc opens with "Until You Sleep" and the track feels just like the title suggests, a sleepy-time lullaby populated with quiet brushed drums, some cascading keyboards, quiet guitars and sleepy male/female vocals. If it were 15 years ago, I could have heard it on the 4AD label, and yet the track is simply content to drift along the same pace for it's extent. "Eternal" follows, and again the track is stripped-back to guitars, spacey keyboards, and vocals, never really going much of anywhere for the duration.
Although the instrumentation on the album seems to lack something, one thing that the group seems to have gotten better at is vocals and their combinations of them. While a majority of the album drifts by in a sleepy haze of breathy vocals, the group gets a good deal of mileage out of their combination of male/female harmonies, and it's often the highlight of tracks. The lovely "We Won't Last Another Year" is a perfect example of this as shuffling drums, chimes, and warm guitars and bass provide a steady but ultimately somewhat bland backing for very pretty harmonies between Jason and Luisa Gough. With a mixture of hornsm strings, and some beautiful shimmering guitars, the latter half of the album closer of "So Close" make the pull race ever-so-slightly, but by then the album has pretty much ended. All in all, Halfway To You works like sort of an aural narcotic as just about everything is bathed in a warm layer of reverb and there are no sharp edges to get caught on.