by Sam Russell
After releasing what was supposed to be the first part of a two part album earlier this year, alternative band half•alive decided to scrap the second half of Give Me Your Shoulders. It was a bold move that many artists wouldn’t dare make. With half•alive, however, anything bold means something amazing, and their new album Conditions Of A Punk was certainly no exception. Prior to its release, the band had mentioned that the album would be about the complex emotions of being in love. Knowing how incredible past albums were for their emotional rawness, fans were excited to see half•alive take a new direction.
A scary aspect of love that frontman Josh Taylor does an amazing job with describing is having to trust someone completely. With the previously released “Move Me,” Taylor sings in depth about how much he wants to be able to trust with all that he is and to lean on this person during bad times. As a personal favorite, this song is beautiful for its lyrics and its instrumentals. The touching verses mixed with cinematic production put the feeling of loving and trusting into a single song. Previously released “Hot Tea” also explores this feeling of trust, embodying the feeling of being wrapped in a hug by the person you love most. One of the most emotional lines is “knowing I’m safe ‘cause you want me”: while not extremely poetic, it perfectly describes how Taylor thinks love feels. On the contrary to these songs, the closing piano ballad “Lost” describes when trust is broken, recounting a relationship’s bad ending and the sense of loss after leaving a partner so full of love. Trust me: it will give you chills.
With this devastating and painful heartbreak, however, comes reflection. Did you put this person on a pedestal and ignore their flaws? “Did I Make You Up?” was described by Josh Taylor as a narration of the post-breakup process, realizing that this idealized version in your head wasn’t the real them. Half•alive has never failed to match their lyrics and production, and successfully evokes this realization process in the listener. On top of the post-breakup reflection is the inevitable pain of feeling like nothing can go right: “Never Been Better” featuring Orla Garland perfectly relates the double-sided nature of acting like you’re fine when you aren’t. An upbeat, happy song combined with depressed lyrics about hiding awful feelings creates another relatable expression. These two songs are just a couple of many on the album that perfectly encapsulate the pain of heartbreak and losing someone you love.
Words truly cannot begin to describe how wonderful Conditions Of A Punk is. An emotionally raw album about an experience new to their music, Conditions Of A Punk beautifully describes the phases of love and how each one feels. Although not all of these phases are described in this review for lack of word count, each of them were represented flawlessly. Instead, one song that perfectly describes this album is the title track “Conditions Of A Punk.” The song introduces all the feelings to come in the rest of the record, and establishes the strong synthesis of production and lyricism. Half•alive’s creativity and willingness to experiment created songs like “Everything Machine” and “Lost,” a uniquely catchy song and a piano ballad respectively, demonstrating their versatility. Half•alive has to be one of the most talented bands of the decade. With this insane talent and universal appeal of love, people across the world look forward to whatever half•alive will put out next, knowing that it won’t be anything less than spectacular.