The “alternative pop” tag can lead to many inevitable – and often lazy – comparisons, especially when you’re a new band like Halflives – and even more so when you’re labelled as a “female-fronted” band. For far too long a certain band beginning with ‘P’ has seen many acts unjustly compared to them. Nevertheless, this debut full-length rides on the coattails of Pvris rather than Paramore.
Over the course of 30 minutes, ‘Empty Rooms’ allows the Italian quintet to leave their mark through a mix of soaring melodies and slick, accessible pop-rock songs. Straight away, ‘Lone Wolf’ sets the tone with dynamic drum work, ringing guitars, twisting synths and a chorus led by anthemic “woah”’s.
‘Mayday’ and ‘Burn’ offer a one-two punch of sublime, bold pop-rock with the latter seeing the vocal talent of Linda Battliani truly shine. It’s a trait that thrives throughout, as her impassioned delivery proves to be thoroughly compelling. The former is a particular standout, as energetic guitars and drums complement Battliani.
Having honed and trimmed the fat during a lengthy writing process, the eight songs on offer aim to put Halflives’ under an honest spotlight. On songs such as ‘Echo’ and ‘The Sickness’, Battliani’s introspective words are delivered with conviction, whilst wrapped in an atmospheric, albeit neatly presented, skin. Despite their short time together, Halflives clearly know how effective a chorus can be. For example, ‘Echo’ pulsates harmoniously as Battliani’s band mates take a back seat.
Likewise, the production on the (semi-)titular track, ‘Empty Room’, sees Fede Bernardi’s punchy drum work serve as a stiff backbone to Battliani’s emotional release as she sings “I just want to scream!” ‘Collide’ rounds things off, taking a grand, ballad-esque approach. Yet by this point, the five-piece have nothing else left to give but put Battliani’s front and center once more.
For all the hooks and impressive vocals Halflives has to offer, their debut outing peaks too soon. However, in Linda Battliani, they have potential to stand out from the swelling “alternative pop” pack.
‘Empty Rooms’ by Halflives is released on 14th April.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)