Coming almost a year and a half after their 2016 split EP, Halogens/STATEN, Halogens newest release, "Happy Hour," is a brutally honest and beautifully worded work of art that hits you right in the feels and brings you to that place where we've all been before, except they're not afraid to show it like most of us are. The underlying message that hit me as soon as I took my headphones off after my first full listen-through was, "it's okay to not be okay." Happy Hour makes you just want to hug your loved ones and everyone else around you and let them know that things are going to be okay.
The opening track,"Pretty Enough," is as real as it gets. Even if you've never personally been there yourself, you'll know exactly how it feels the first time you hear it. The track documents one's habits of slacking, drinking and starvation to numb the pain of their internal and external insecurities while having to physically remind themselves that "I'll always love you," on a purple post-it note, hoping that maybe, one day, the handwriting will change, one day leading to confidence. However, the ink fades...
The next track is my personal favorite, possibly my favorite Halogen's song to date, "The Inside." The song possess a very summer-night vibe to it, is about one dealing with an ailment or illness, or as Zach brilliantly refers to them, "infections in my blood," hiding from everyone as a result of physical insecurities and lack of confidence, nail polish and learning to love your flaws. The instrumentation is very delicate, opening with a captivating bass line courtesy of Tim, followed by a George Saives' signature leg tapping hi-hat riff on the drums, then accompanied by Charlie's trademark, sharp guitar tone and arguably the catchiest verses Zach has ever written. The slow instrumental build ups in the pre-chorus are nothing short of phenomenal, as is the entire song. P.S. Denim jackets are so late-20th century, Deaglan.
"Buckle," is a re-recorded, full-band version of the song from on their previous EP and I still to this day get choked up whenever I listen to either version. It's an autobiographical track where Zach chronicles his feelings of grief and regret for not contacting his father before his death and then ponders upon his traits that he naturally inherited from him as well as his plea for forgiveness, hoping that he can still be present by haunting him every day. An overall very heartfelt, authentic song that really hits you in every fiber of your being.
Check out the official lyric video for "Buckle," below!
"Sometimes," or as I had always referred to as, "short song," maybe it has something to do with the tune clocking in at 84 seconds, or maybe it's just me. "Sometimes," is actually a very cheerful, uplifting tune that one would enjoy on a summers day down the shore. The track can be summed up in the opening line, "Though life can be hard sometimes, I'm just happy to be alive." Life is hard, that's just the reality of it, and we may not have all that we want or as much as we'd like at times, but we should always be grateful when we wake up every single morning, except Mondays, those kinda suck.
"O'Gorman" is another great track (Is anyone really surprised?) that I had previously written about in a review of the sole track. Without going overboard with it, the premise of this track is one questioning their existence as a result of their peers, and their "better lives," but the real question is, "do they smile while they're all alone?" Refer to the previous article to get a more in-depth analysis of the track if you wish.
Finally, "The Backwoods," the longest and final track on the EP. I particularly love this song's message because to me it just has that total throw your hands up and say "whatever, fuck it," attitude while dealing with a dysfunctional relationship. One of the companions is holding the other back with their obsessive ways and bad days, wanting the other person to stay and change my life, but ultimately lets them go because they want what's best for the other person, then retreating underground and accepting that sometimes life just ain't fair.
I've known these guys for about 3 years, I've seen them play live on 10+ occasions and I've seen their musicianship and song-writing skills evolve over time. I can't even put into words how proud I am of them and how much I genuinely love this EP. It's as personal and heavy as it gets, you can't help but tip your hat off to Halogens for being so open about their feelings and personal struggles. I'm so excited to see them play their album release show, next Saturday, March 2nd at the Asbury Park Brewery located at 810 Sewell Ave with Blaise, Mandancing and Keep Flying. So in between each band's set, feel free to berate me and tell me how much my website sucks, BYOT (tomatoes) to pelt me with. This is going to be a gig for the ages, it's as exciting as rock n roll gets. See you there!