on 26 May 2005
This album has been almost universally praised by the press with almost blanket 5 and 4 star reviews. A reason to buy it but also a reason to be wary. I have to say it is one of the best pieces of modern pop music I have heard in a long time. It is hard to think of any other band out there making music of such sheer ambition; craft and warmth. Some of the songs are extraordinary: my eyes are sore is like a mini-opera with multi-layered vocals; harps and horns whilst fools by your side and don't come running feel like offcuts from Pet Sounds: yes, they are that good. Their sheer strength of individuality and vision and strength with a melody prevents any of this from descending into pastiche. I really think it's a masterpiece.
on 11 June 2005
Forget the recent big releases by Coldplay & Oasis et al, this is where the enjoyment is to be had. Once in a while an album is released that can be listened to from start to end on the first play, whilst leaving a massive smile on your face as well as your heart. This is just one such slab of music, standouts for me..."My Eyes are Sore" beautiful and stirring, when the strings come in right towards the end overlaying the final round of harmonies..fabulous, "Don't Come Running" & "Worry about the Wind" lovely summer 70's era Beach Boys & Big Star driving songs, "Coming Right Over" simply wonderful, what a way to end a fantastic 43 mins of music. With Hal and The Magic Numbers we truly are spoilt! Buy Buy Buy!!
on 6 May 2005
Time will tell if this album earns a fifth star. For now it feels fresh and summery, contemporary yet pleasantly unfashionable.
My immediate reference would be Grand Drive, but with an uptempo and more indie style. The songs are full of big melodies, the playing is great and the falsetto vocals never feel twee or grating.
on 28 April 2005
A fantastic record! Killer tracks are 'What A lovely dance', 'Play the hits', 'Don't come running', 'i sat down' and 'worry about the wind' but they are all awesome. And there's so much variety on the album: from the summery, beach boys/ motown-like 'Play the hits' and the great 'Don't come running' to more mellow-sounding tunes like 'i sat down'. I advise anyone looking for some uplifting and refreshing music to buy this album and u shouldn'tbe disappointed!
on 13 April 2005
The above are just 3 alliterative words that could be used to describe this fully realised pop beauty. There is depth, layers and warmth to this debut, thus making it far from 'Shallow' Hal.
What can I add? Well, the amazon review is spot-on. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys' vocal harmonies is the obvious starting point. To this, add The Lightning Seeds, World Party, Supertramp, Chicago, Mercury Rev and fellow Irishmen, The Thrills. There is nothing remotely 'filler' here, although it slightly runs out of melody towards the end. Every track is lovingly caressed into existence - just like Brian Wilson would do. A comparison of the current single "Play The Hits" with its demo version (to be found on the CD single) is like comparing the original "Pet Sounds" with its accappella version.
There is timeless romanticism on the McCartneyesque "Keep Love As Your Golden Rule". There is Banjo-plucking on "I Sat Down". There are Childlike vocals, lush orchestration and what sounds like tympani drums on the gorgeous "My Eyes Are Sore". Debut single, "Worry About The Wind" was good, but opener "What A Lovely Dance" is better, which is perhaps why the former has been relegated to 8th track. Still, it is nicely sequenced on the album, after another languid track, the trumpet-infused "Fools By Your Side".
For some, this will be too saccharine and MOR. Plugged correctly, however, and as successive singles become hits, Hal could become this year's surprise big seller, like Damien Rice and Keane were in 2004. Then soon, every gig will be a chance for them to play their hits. Not a classic, but a very, very good debut.
on 3 August 2005
Excuse the pun ^. Hal have found a wavelength that only consists of sand and sea, cliffs and pesky seagulls. It reeks of summer still. This is all well and good, but their pleasantness and obbsession for optimism will only bode well on the surface for some. The multicoloured panorama-screen that Hal have created may be for a targeted audience only. However, if you don't find the words extactic joy and glorious sunshine too squirmish, you'll do fine with it.
on 8 April 2012
Heard one of their songs on Spotify and immediately became a fan, every song is brilliant. If you like the Beach Boys you'll probably like this, the harmonies are excellent and the melodies very very catchy. However, they are very original and definitely have their own style and imagination. I reckon only about 10 people in the world know of Hal, which is a crying shame...putting the music back into music.