The thrilling debut album from this intense New York City trio makes their city feel alive once again
Hercules And Love Affair
The absence of Antony won’t stop this party. Parlure Spiegeltent, Brighton (May 23)
Tethered by smouldering, insistent beats and chewy analogue synth arpeggios, HALA’s live show is more LCD Soundsystem than Scissor Sisters. There’s no Antony Hegarty – he was never signed up to be a touring member – and Nomi’s generic house diva routine can’t quite compensate. But ‘Blind’ shines through as a brilliant song regardless, and the set is full of other deft surprises: Kim Ann’s sassy new-wave vocals, the mesmeric spiralling brass duels and a lithe reinvention of ’70s rock staple ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’. Proving that they’re more than just nerdy disco historians, new song ‘I’m Telling You’ is a thrillingly queasy, discordant blast, while the dreamy bubblegum of ‘Iris’ would be gratefully devoured by Gwen Stefani or Santogold. HALA’s supple musicality is stunning and it’s clear they’re only just exploring what they can do as a live band.
If they seem a tiny bit timid, it isn’t just because this intimate live show teases out the bristly melancholy buried in even some of their most euphoric songs; as mainman Andy Butler reveals afterwards, “The stage was shaking so much that when we danced hard, my headphones fell on the keyboard, making a horrible noise. But I saw people in the crowd turning their backs on us to dance, lost in their own little world – that tells me we’re doing the job.” Next time, Andy promises two furiously voguing dancers and a show that doesn’t have to end by 11pm as a result of sound restrictions. Man, woman or lady boy, the love affair is only just beginning.
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