Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Not Nice" Review: Halou - Halou

Artist: Halou
Album: Halou
Year: 2008
Rating: 2.5/5

(Written on 25 Octomber 2008)

As I am writing, I already dust off the R/R Coseboom material, since my nostalgia grown very big again. Because of the autumn? No, not really.

There's a new Halou album. Ha, ha. A very exciting proposal if I hadn't listened to Sawtooth EP. Having listened to that EP, I was ready to hit with predjudice, but, you know, the new album might actually be good! The new album has only 8 new songs (out of which 3 I've already heard on Halou's MySpace), so I hoped these would redeem Halou's latest effort. Unfortunately, at least on my first listen, I wasn't very amazed by what I've heard.

At first, I could define Halou's self-titled album as a "rehash". I don't mind bringing a song from the previous album on your latest album, I don't mind reworking material from a side-project and putting it on the new album. But it's all not good. A part of the album is ripped from Sawtooth EP (all the songs from that EP are here!), a part of it is represented by reworkings of older songs initially made under the R/R Coseboom project ("Seabright" is from Moths + Butterflies and "Eejit" and "Hollywood Ending" are from Beneath Trembling Lanterns), a part of it is represented by apparently new songs - apparently. "Skimming" and a few other songs were supposed to be on a collection of unreleased songs from the Wholeness & Separation sessions, entitled Afield Recordings. But Afield Recordings was never released - they were dumped here. Nice thing to do for fans, but a compilation of B-sides never had as many expectations as a full-grown, long-length album. Having said that, the real problem of this album is the atmosphere. Or the lack of it.

Besides arguable tags like "trip-hop" or "dream pop", I always thought of Halou as a band that creates atmosphere. The term I would least associate with the makers of Wiser or We Only Love You is "bland". Atmosphere is where it's at. However, come to think of it, the one word that defines this new album is "bland". Useless to start describing each song (like in my old reviews, heh). What we got here is slightly noisy indie-rock-tronica-whatever (with some unsubstantial contributions from Robin Guthrie and Zoƫ Keating, both rarely noticeable - ironically) lumped it with some trip-hoppy-IDM that don't fit in the album very well, even when flooded with - touche! - acoustic guitars.

"Woah, you teh complain cause it's no hip-hop!" Firstly, don't confound trip-hop with hip-hop, and second, Halou members have proved before they don't have to make trip-hop or other such stuff to be cool (Parallelism, for instance). It's just that this album fails to hit me somewhere, anywhere, even on the nails! Sure, returning to your super-duper-shoegazy roots is cool, but this is barely dreamy. It just sounds like the album of a band that's still in pursuit of a identity. Maybe I'll change my opinion a bit over a few listens, maybe it will grow on me, but, personally, I would have waited a little bit more for a different album...

Come to think of it, I like the new typewriter sounds on "Eejit" 2....

Edit: Well, Halou is now gone. I hope the forthcoming Stripmall Architecture album is more polished than this one.

No comments: