Things Get Weird, Angsty, and Discordant on hah.'s Debut Album
There are just some records that as soon as you see the album cover- you know it's going get really weird, and you know you're gonna like it. This was the case for New York indie rock band Hah.'s new record "all your bad habits talk behind your back."
The album cover features a child wearing a golden crown and eating a slice of watermelon. You can't exactly tell whether the cover is a drawing, a photo, or some combination of both; which only makes it more unsettling. "Unsettling" is probably a good way to describe this record. It's strange, it's angsty, it's discordant, and yet, like the album cover- you can't look away (or in this case, stop listening).
The album opens with the track "I Fell Down The Stairs (SPAAAAACE)", which features a small group of voices harmonizing on the word "space" in a way that does not sound unlike a bit in an '80's stoner cult comedy. After this it moves on to the actual song; with glittery chorused guitars, and vocalist Leo Frampton crooning gently over them. Eventually the song blossoms into a full band composition, complete with drums, vocal harmonies, and fuzzy, Pavement-esque guitar solos.
As the first song deconstructs into discordant guitars, "Adults" begins, and opens with the line "it's so fun to act like adults." Frampton delivers their lines in a sing-songy, tongue in cheek way- which seems to mask the real fear of aging that peeks its ugly face out through the song's comedic lyricism.
"!Swimmer!" features some rather uncomfortable lyrics. Lines like "I don't wanna be a sperm again, swimmin' to my birth," make you say "Wait, what was that?" while you restart the song to make sure you heard what you thought you heard. The band's lyrics go from funny to self-deprecating pretty fast, while maintaining a level of irony and a lack of seriousness.
"-the show-" is definitely the strangest song on the record. It starts out with dissonant and noodley guitars, slowly plodding along, until eventually the whole band comes in. The song can't seem to decide if wants to be in a major or minor key, only adding to the unsettling atmosphere. Finally, the song picks up about halfway through, when Leo drones "when the woods get dark, everyone disappears", before crescendoing into a messy, noisy guitar solo for the next few minutes.
The record gains momentum with "The Melted": a track filled with satisfying hooks and jangly guitars- which for some reason remind me of an R.E.M. song. You know, if R.E.M. wrote songs about drowning in puddles of melted ice cream.
"oooooooooh" is a nice transition track into the last song on the record. The track is a seemingly deconstructed version of opener, "I Fell Down The Stairs"; a weirder, sleepier, and more atmospheric version of the very same lyrics.
As the guitars and pianos in "oooooooooh" falter and sputter out, "The Professional" jumps right back into action with a fun and dancey acoustic guitar that starkly contrasts with dark and unsettling lyrics like "I hope I'm never happy so that I'm never boring, my visions are disturbing and nothing is a joke." The record ends here- as strangely and abruptly as it began. Part of you is going to want to hug your mom and tell her you love her, part of you is going to want to take a long, cold shower, and another part is going to want to replay this record until your roommates yell at you to turn that sad shit off.