The Hallway - 'Vestad'
As regular readers will know. we like to take our time listening to new Albums / EPs before we review them, to really appreciate and understand the music - at least that's our excuse for normally being slightly behind with our reviews anyway. So after a Japanese edition release of The Hallway's 'Vestad' back in May, it's been good to really get to know the EP ahead of the wider Vinyl release (due this weekend) and to see whether it stands the test of time. It definitely does, and I'm now enjoying even more than when I first heard it.
We have written about The Hallway before, of course, when they released the single 'Air / Closer', and the band, formed after the sad demise of 'Team Me' (at least as a full band), have released an excellent set of tracks based around big melodies, complex instrumentation and slightly fraught vocals from Simen Schikulski. In fact I'll avoid making too many comparisons with Team Me, as whilst I have no doubt that fans of that band will like 'The Hallway', this music does sound and feel different - from the greater use of guitars to more challenging lyrics. I'm not going to say I like it more or less, it is just different.
After the short intro 'Hello', The Hallway launch into 'Used To Know', a massive tune and layers of instruments arranged over the top, and a great contrast between driving guitars and a xylophone beating out the main theme. 'Stay and Grow Old' is anthem like in it's approach, although now that I've heard the whole EP, it is probably my least favoured track, maybe the vocals are almost too fraught for my liking. And after the short and tortured 'Best Regards', 'The Hallway' deliver 'Million Ways' a simply outstanding song, which with its offbeat and syncopated rhythms will firstly throw you slightly off kilter to the side and then hurtling forward at an insane pace. It would be my favourite track, but the original single release (and final track) 'Air / Closer' is still so good, upbeat and I love the string arrangements. It is most probably my most listened to new track of 2016.
This is a hugely rewarding EP / Mini Album, that should keep you interested over multiple listens. It would be true to say that if you're looking for delicately written songs with intimate stripped back arrangements, you probably won't find it in the world of The Hallway. Similar to the recently reviewed 'The Culture In Memoriam' this is a band who unashamedly 'throw the kitchen sink' at their music, but with the instrumentation cleverly layered on top of well written and constructed songs, it never feels too much, I haven't got lost under the weight of too many conflicting sounds. 'Vestad' is highly recommended, and with an appearance due at next weeks Øyafestivalen (straight after the brilliant Siv Jakobsen, and yes that is a huge contrast in musical styles), 'The Hallway' are a must see live band that are sure to light up any stage.
Reward yourself with a copy of the Vinyl this weekend, I'm sure you've deserved it (even if you're in the UK and Brexit lunacy means the exchange rate is now terrible...).
Full Øya festival line up here - http://oyafestivalen.com/program/