When an advance copy of the debut record from HAL landed on my desk, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. The artwork is quite similar to the classic cartoon imagery found on Eels' Daisies Of The Galaxy. Having never heard of HAL before, I almost put the album in my "maybe" pile. Fortunately, I gave the disc a spin and became completely immersed in their nostalgic sound. Musically, this album is filled with '60s inspired rock for the 21st century. This Irish quartet's album is a piece of breezy pop perfection with plenty of lyrical and musical substance. The self-titled release kicks off with the toe-tapping "What A Lovely Dance", a sun-kissed handclap-filled tune that would have made George Harrison smile. "Play The Hits"is a standout track, somehow putting pieces of the Beach Boys and Elvis Costello together for a summertime gem. Up next is "I Sat Down", which is filled with beautiful orchestration layered over mountains of vocal harmony and the rolling chords of a banjo. "Worry About The Wind" starts off as a simple love song, which catapults into a lush sing-along chorus with soaring backing vocals. For a debut record, this band shows a musical strength and maturity that takes most groups two or three records to find. The beauty of this album is in HAL's ability to look both forward and backward at the same time, building a bridge to bring music together from two very different times. Pulling influences from the Byrds and the Beatles, and fusing them with innovative songwriting in the vein of bands such as Super Furry Animals and Mercury Rev, HAL can entertain rock music fans of all ages. Don't let this album slip through the cracks. This is the music of springtime, so grab this record and soak it in.

HAL
Rough Trade

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HAL