New Jersey rock band Halogens are not easy to pigeonhole. While some would say the foursome cut their craft from pop punk influences, the reality is they are so much more than a singular genre. Happy Hour, their new EP, is a 6-song trek through a myriad of moods, sounds and aural landscapes that become distinctly them. To my ears, they take some musical cues from bands who made their way down similar musical paths in the past- Piebald, Limbeck, (and if you squint a little, FYP)- and sound very comfortable in their sound.
“Pretty Enough”, the opening salvo, hits you like an emotional punch into the gut. Slow burning, delicate but sullen, it is a little jaunt into Midwestern emo’s less distorted moments. It’s a terrific track, and one that you’d think gives you a clear picture of what the rest of the EP sounds like, but before the next track “The Inside” can finish, you realise Halogens aren’t content with singularities. They take genres and wash them over with different textures and a good dose of their own personality (something about the vocal delivery of singer Zach Henry that adds to the picture) and so tracks like “Pretty Enough, while not groundbreaking, are given a distinct Halogens hue.
“Buckle” flares into more alternative rock territory while there’s just a little cow punk Limbeck-ish twang to “Sometimes”. It gives you some cowbell (cowbell!) in “O’Gorman” but swings ears to puckish indie rock, coupled with toe-tapping “woah woahs” and frenetic guitars.
As the closing “The Backwoods” swells into its gorgeous crescendo, Happy Hour ends on a true high. Electric solos, mixed tempos, distortion and a good serving of introspection;
“I just wanted you to stay and change my life but things are always in your way / So I will go and I will stay there / Sometimes life just ain’t fair”
Happy Hour is 6 songs that show a band flexing their take on the influences that have shaped their music- with competence and poise. You’ll never get bored with Halogens. And on that note, it’s time to for another round.