Halfsour Corral Power-Pop and Post-Punk Influences On A Contemplative “Sticky”
Zoë Wyner fronts the band on bass and vocals, Matt Mara is the group’s only guitarist, and Travis Hagan (the most recent addition to halfsour) plays drums. Sticky was recorded by the band themselves and partially tracked out in a rickety New Hampshire barn. halfsour chose to enlist additional sets of ears in the last stages of the album; with mixing done at Sonelab by Justin Pizzoferrato and mastering at M-Works by Jonathan Wyner.
Sticky is a record that transmits an assortment of influences throughout its eleven songs; yet the album as a whole feels deliberately interwoven. Central themes are present in both lyrical context and within the instrumentation. Wyner’s words convey relatable subject matter about life’s curmudgeonly dispossessions and how they aren’t always easy to navigate. However, glimpses of hope shine through apprehensions as the lyrics are reassuringly innate. Sonically, Sticky takes on power-pop structures all the while meshing a post-punk mindset with consistently impressive performances across the board, as mentioned in their Post-Trash premiere:
“On the whole, Sticky wrangles punk-fueled, post-grunge inclinations with leisurely ardent performances. Vocal parts are sharply pronounced and powerful. Bass lines are dependable and smooth, as they lock in with staunch, sometimes spastic drumming. There’s no shortage of massively memorable guitar scattered across Sticky.”
First up on the album, “Television Professor” fades into existence with a creaking rise of back and forth guitar sustain. The band’s songwriting style quickly begins to unfurl itself as a characteristically chill bass line links up with a languidly poised drum beat. In the song’s verse heavy assembly, Wyner’s lyrics paint a narrative with lines: “Die alone still by the phone. Remote in hand, did ever learn? You check the mail see if they care. And that’s when you will know just what you’ve become.”
As “Blurred Camera Phone” kicks off, a frazzled guitar riff smashes into throbbing bass and drums. Vocals enter and the initial riff dips down with a moment of sparkling contrast. However, the song is high energy by nature as the transitions and colossal chorus sections repeat onceover, shouting: “Black and white blurred camera phone. Pictures of my life as meant to go, or as I’ve been told.”
Initially, you may think that “Built-in Guilt” mellows out the pace of Sticky due to Wyner’s non abrasive acapella intro. Acting as a fake-out of sorts, the tune quickly snowballs into something much darker than anticipated. Chord choices in “Built-in Guild” are somewhat sludgey, and nearly hit hardcore territory before unwinding. A variance in halfsour’s songwriting unfolds as the more cheery, yet fast-paced post-punk “All Gone” plays next on Sticky. The bass line on this song strums within the kick drum syncopation, adding in a handful of tasteful, thunderous fills. About halfway through the track, two ripping guitars solos are backed up effortlessly by the locked in rhythm section.
“Cowboy” opens up a sparse but still dark tone; it’s loud as hell, and chunky and ends with an aggravated: “Erase my face and take my place, I just wanna go. Please leave me here, abandon me, so that I can go home. I can’t wait til I’m forgotten now.”
One of the most notably distinctive songs on halfsour’s sophomore release is “Paper Window”. Although it’s the longest song yet from the band-- at over five minutes, nothing about it feels drawn out. “Paper Window” is memorable, ballad-like, and lofty, and the lyrics are lamenting. The last verse expands with the words: “While awake, you think back, a micron in your brain. You tell yourself that it’s not gone so far away, housed within a dome.” The vocal melodies, guitar hooks, and entrancing 8mm film video for “Paper Window” are all unforgettable.
Quick hitters “Slug”, “Ditches”, and “Big Teeth” juxtapose “Paper Window” with heavier, similarly paced blasts. And “Shelf Life” seems to sit somewhere in the middle of this juxtaposition. “Shelf Life” is melodic in a “Paper Window” sense, but still rumbling, filled with feedback, and ends with a squalling guitar solo.
“Milk Bath” was the last single halfsour released, and concludes Sticky with riff heavy, jammy repetitions. A high-hat based drum beat launches “Milk Bath” into oblivion. The song navigates a careful series of power-pop infused up’s and down’s and lyrics about social scenarios “preparing for impending doom”.
halfsour is currently on tour with Pile and Anna Altman—you can check out the remaining dates below:
05.27 - Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola
05.28 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern +
05.29 - Cleveland, OH @ Mahall's +
05.30 - Detroit, MI @ Trumbullplex +
05.31 - Columbus, OH @ Spacebar
06.01 - Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville *
+ = supporting Pile
* = with Anna Altman