Hello Forever – Whatever it is (UK import with bonus 7″ single)
A vibrant psychedelic pop group under the tight quality control of lead singer and songwriter Samuel Joseph, Los Angeles County’s Hello Forever make their debut with Whatever It Is. The 12-track set was culled from 200 days of recording sessions, an indulgence evident in the results. It’s an album where Freddie Mercury-like vocal performances and soaring melodies can run in tandem with Technicolor harmonies and razor-sharp guitar riffs as part of a high-contrast design that also navigates graceful acoustic textures, often within the same song. The composite sound evokes not only Queen and Joseph‘s idols, the Beach Boys (he intentionally attended the same colleges as Brian Wilson), but studio-era Beatles, ELO, and others from among the more crystalline yet trippy pop/rock of ’60s and ’70s. These songs aren’t stuck in the past, however, with the band drawing comparisons to contemporaries like Vampire Weekend early on, as well. Another trait of the debut is uniformly positive lyrics, as on romantic opener “Some Faith,” a song that recalls scenes of falling in love before ending with an imitation of the closing notes of “Twist and Shout.” Over the course of the next ten songs, Whatever It Is borrows from doo wop (“Anywhere Is Everywhere”), West Coast folk-rock (“Get It Right”), soul (“Rise”), arena rock (“Natural”), and more without ever cutting its tether to affectionate — if highly stylized — pop. An album for cranking up and singing along to, it offers a breather with closer “Happening,” a spare acoustic track that leaves listeners with the impression of a live campfire recording. While impressive for its sonic depths and melodic feats, perhaps the album’s greatest accomplishment is that, even at its relatively generous length, each song is a potential fan favorite. Mint.
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