No two ways about it. This is a purely beautiful debut album.
Semifinalists have managed to condense hours of sweeping, emotional epic music all the way down into 3 minute wedges of charming pop music. An absolutely awesome feat has been accomplished here and one that will stand the test of time long after the jittery indie barrage has subsided. It may take a listen or two but 'Semifinalists' will inhabit your heart and mind and stay there for a very long time, guaranteed.
If you're liking the new crop of almost quirky indie-folk bands emerging from the woodwork (The Decemberists, Two Gallants etc.) then Semifinalists should be next on your list. This band in particular however have even more strings to their collective bow than even their nearest genre compatriot. Every single song differs greatly in its arrangement and tempo in particular but the only constant factor is the air of understated epic-ness that goes along with every tune.
A smooth, relaxed but still on edge spectre looming above proceedings trying to coax the post-rock from their veins. Semifinalists don't need it though, they don't need to elongate the songs to mindless minutes upon minutes. In fact, doing so would probably ruin what they have right here and besides why do in 10 what you can do in 3?
The near harrowing vocal performances from the twin main vocalists Ferry Gouw and the absolutely gorgeously toned Adriana Alba are exceptional throughout, especially when pushed to their limits on the gradually building to surprise hardcore riffage of 'Let's Kill This' and later in the call and response album highlight of 'You Said'.
It would usually be about this time that the negatives would be unfurled. In the case of an album like this, the hammer may fall on the fact it bores or trails off towards the end but this couldn't be further from the truth on this occasion. The freshness and internal power of the songs is withheld to the very last note. Sublime stuff.
Semifinalists have crafted a weapon of sheer, unimaginable beauty here and done so without the need to isolate the beard strokers or hand-feed the less intelligible but, on first attempt, they've hit the mark spot on. Highly recommended.