Search The Line of Best Fit
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half•alive attempt to shed ego and find fulfilment on Conditions Of A Punk

"Conditions Of A Punk"

Release date: 02 December 2022
half•alive - Conditions Of A Punk - Album Artwork
02 December 2022, 10:30 Written by Elliot Burr

Balancing the peppy joy of electro-pop contemporaries with psychological concepts, half•alive almost complete the walk along the tricky tightrope with an overstuffed tracklist.

For a band strongly influenced by Freud and Jung’s analysis of the subconscious, half•alive’s changing release schedule has been mind–boggling. First intending a double record, Give Me Your Shoulders Pt. 1’s next chapter was scrapped via a poetic nightswimming explanation. Then Conditions Of A Punk arrived, where the group attempts to rid a ‘punk’ ego and embrace love in multiple forms. It’s a reflective but catchy ‘figuring out’ process across 18 pop tracks.

It opens with scatterbrain intent, featuring a man-and-piano, glitches, lo-fi lounge verses and acoustic guitars strummed with some heavy hands. Brett Kramer’s drums rarely adhere to an underlying steady beat. The morosely repeated “summer took it outta me, love ain’t what I’d thought it’d be” introduces a seasonal change theme well, the record’s loose connective tissue to describe Taylor’s internal flip flopping.

But while this initial left field collage invites an experimental element, it feels weighed down by other paint-by-numbers song structures and overly indulged metaphors. “Summerland” sparks fun loving “new beginnings” at beachside bars and sandy dancefloors. “I was summer, you were fall” Taylor sings on “Did I Make You Up?” alongside “dying with the leaves” on “Back Around”, channelling familiar rhythms served by The 1975.

The self–realisation concept shines most when backed by powerful instrumentation. “Brighton” compares love to a cruel yet necessary lifeblood, all through 80s keyboard worship (including “no one ever put baby in the corner” opening line). “Nobody” has a synth bass that means business, adding a funky oomph to its otherwise serious tale of “moving up the ladder.” Many cuts see the trio introduce curious production choices: “High Up” features James Blake–style voice manipulations; “Move Me” trades in an overwhelming orchestral crescendo for a playful chiptune whisper over its outro; “Bad Thoughts” hits clubbier territories. Warped guitars and Taylor’s verse tradeoffs with Orla Gartland on tongue-in-cheek “Never Been Better” are a standout, with its pre chorus the record’s infectious peak.

Ending on piano ballad “Lost,” the album’s musical introduction returns while the self seeking reach for answers continues. In that sense, Conditions Of A Punk’s vulnerable humanist theme is sound, it’s a shame the consistency is a little too literal for many unvarying tracks. Peppered with hooks, the special sauce that elevates electro-pop’s big players peaks only timidly through the Long Beach band’s second album. They still have the potential to amplify it.

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