by Nathan Springer (@drownloading)
Hah. is a band from Harrison, NY, (just north of New York City) that sounds a lot like its name. The seven tracks on Hah.’s debut, all your bad habits talk behind your back, have a charming sense of humor tempered by a sobering melancholy. They’re kind of like the jokes you tell to make it seem like everything’s okay when you’re feeling anything but. And Hah. have both the instrumental and lyrical poise to see-saw between self-deprecating humor and genuine coming-of-age anxieties with a sense of tottering grace that keeps the album engaging the whole way through.
The music that I’ve come across with connections to the north-of-NYC suburbs has been striking in its earnest sadness (for example, Danny Christmas and William Moloney), and Hah. falls into this same camp. Opener “I Fall Down the Stairs (SPAAAACE)” sounds like it could be a Ween song until the band kicks with a twee-indebted passage backed by lyrics wandering between longing and lounging thoughts. Standout track “Adults” has a stuttering, upbeat shuffle that belies the stresses described in the lyrics; one section in particular does a good job of summing up the feel of the album as a whole: “Well let’s drink beer and pretend it’s wine/Make a joke about a movie and everything’s fine/Why can’t life be like this for the rest of time”. There are definitely a lot of musical reference points (Double Double Whammy and Father/Daughter artists come to mind), but Hah. have enough lyrical and compositional idiosyncrasies to stand out. Plus, the songs are just plain catchy.
By the time the album’s brief and pretty closer, “The Professional,” rolls around, Hah. sound like they have come to terms with their burgeoning adulthood, or at least begrudgingly resigned themselves to it. “I hope I’m never happy/So that I’m never boring/My visions are disturbing/And nothing is a joke” is a line that sticks out, and it’s still uncertain whether this is an earnest statement or just another quip. The truth is, it’s probably both, and a few lines later we hear, “My mother doesn’t love me/Just kidding, she’s amazing”, continuing the cycle the album has created. Hah. seem to be kids trapped in the bodies of young adults, and as long as they keep up the great songwriting they can wait a bit longer to fully grow up.