Give Me Your Shoulders, Pt. 1
RCA · February 11, 2022
Back with the first part of their sophomore album, alternative band half•alive has yet again caused listeners to be enamored with their work. The meaning behind Give Me Your Shoulders, Pt. 1 was best described by half•alive themselves in the announcement of the album’s release on Instagram. The band explained, “Give Me Your Shoulders has many layers of intimacy. Physical, emotional, & spiritual. Shoulders are intimate in nature, close to the heart, a place of strength & tell of vulnerability. A sign of how safe I feel, & how close I’m willing to let you be.” This statement only captures a portion of the indescribable beauty in the meaning of this album, and the thoughtfulness put into these songs becomes evident upon listening.
Give Me Your Shoulders opens with a previously released single titled “Make of It.” The song has a very cool and unique sound, something half•alive is known for. The lyrics give listeners inspiration to take control of how they allow their past to shape them. They describe being more than the struggles we’ve overcome and how our past is not just our past, but what we actually make of it.
The album’s second track, “Summerland,” is another unique sound, albeit with a bit more of a pop influence than the former. “Summerland” has a sound that is incredibly catchy and its instrumentals feel as if the song would be a summer anthem, hence its name. The idea of summer also ties into the song’s lyrics, as they describe the bliss of summer after tough winters. With the description of winter, it’s implied that it brings bouts of seasonal depression and that the bliss of summer cures this. The changing of seasons described in the song also represents the growth and maturity of half•alive frontman Josh Taylor. The relatable and hopeful lyrics of “Summerland” make it very easy to enjoy and arguably one of the album’s best songs.
Following “Summerland” is the first single from Give Me Your Shoulders, “What’s Wrong.” This song is the epitome of half•alive’s sound. The catchy beat mixed with the alternative instrumentals and yet again relatable lyrics come together to create a perfect song. The song’s lyrics describe how keeping everything inside can be harmful and that it’s never too late to release emotions. The lyrics can also be interpreted to mean that it’s never too late to repair things that one feels are wrong, hence the song’s chorus “the time’s always right to fix what’s wrong.”
While “What’s Wrong” has a bit of pop influence, “Everything Machine” takes on a more grunge sound. The song itself feels edgy and cool, with the use of heavier bass really amplifying this style. The lyrics, however, are less edgy in that they describe being there for someone no matter what and allowing them to always rely on you. While the lyrics fit the album’s theme incredibly well, the sound of “What’s Wrong” gives the album a twist, something very different from all the other songs.
The final single before the release of Give Me Your Shoulders was “Hot Tea.” “Hot Tea” makes for a really interesting song in that it has some of the edginess of “Everything Machine” mixed with the dance vibes of “Make of It.” Its sound may remind listeners of a hip hop song, but it remains a great mix of that classic alternative sound. The lyrics in “Hot Tea” ever so slightly resemble the lyrics of “Everything Machine.” “Hot Tea’s” lyrics explain what it feels like to have the comforting knowledge that someone always has your back. The beauty of these lyrics helps listeners to understand the greater themes of vulnerability and emotional intimacy on Give Me Your Shoulders and contribute to making the song a very enjoyable listen.
Throughout the majority of Give Me Your Shoulders, the themes of the album are conveyed well through the lyrics of each song. However, the overall themes of the album are not only communicated through the lyrics of “Move Me,” but also through the breathtaking instrumentals. “Move Me” is something so unlike anything half•alive has done before. Its soft, pretty, cinematic sounding instrumentals tell listeners that vulnerability and emotional intimacy is beautiful, and its lyrics express the same. The lyrics poetically describe trusting someone with all that you are and wanting them to trust you back all while seeking a purpose in life. “Move Me” is a truly incredible listen that not only feels as if it’s straight from a movie, but also ties Give Me Your Shoulders together perfectly.
Finishing with yet another song that makes listeners want to dance, “Back Around” is clearly heavily influenced by pop and dance music genres. The lyrics really make the song feel like a perfect album closer. They describe the need to grow as well as to find what we believe in as individuals. These lyrics lead listeners to anticipate that even more growth will be evident in the lyrics of whatever Give Me Your Shoulders, Pt. 2 brings.
Tackling more mature topics can prove to be difficult for some artists, but it’s evident that half•alive had no difficulty doing so. The poetic nature of the album was truly beautiful, and each track having its own distinct sound added to this beauty. The creativity, thoughtfulness, and raw emotion behind every song is incredibly refreshing to see and easily allows listeners to feel more connected to the album. Half•alive has yet again produced an stunning album, causing fans to eagerly await the arrival of Give Me Your Shoulders, Pt. 2.