Release Date: May 10, 2005
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Hal are destined to be compared to the Thrills: both groups are from Ireland; both are purveyors of ultra-hooky, dramatic vocal harmony-drenched tunes with a West Coat slant; and both are very, very good. Once you get past the surface comparisons, though, there are enough differences to reduce the similarities to a happy coincidence. Hal certainly aren't ripping off the Thrills; there is far too much exuberance and excitement on their debut album for them to be written off as mere imitators.
Their name aside (it was inspired, geekily, by the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey), Hal are as good as harmonic Celtic pop-lords get these days. Scandalously, their castanet-clacking new single, Play the Hits, only reached number 38 this week, but if this debut album doesn't go top five, the charts may as well be padlocked and handed over to G4. Like their Irish brethren the Thrills, Hal have filtered out most sounds created either after 1975, or east of Malibu, and a mist of nostalgia hangs rosily over the proceedings.