Oh Jersey, you’ve had my heart from a wee tender age. As I write these words after a week of ad nauseam replays of this gorgeous little emo effort, I find that New Jersey has come to take my little broken heart all over again. Halogens are an Asbury Park, NJ based alternative rock quartet, whom have most recently released a six song EP by the name of Happy Hour that has been dancing in my ears for probably a wee bit too long, but who’s counting anyway.
Halogens have an incredibly interesting mixture of a lot of emotionally based content. It’s tough to call these cats traditional emo, because they’re not, but there is without any question an aspect of the early 2000’s subgenre culture that can be found in these very rock-laden tunes. Picture what would happen if Dashboard Confessional were to be fronted by Rivers Cuomo, or if Brand New and Blink 182 were to have a rather sad but very radio-friendly love child. These are the things that would help describe the melting pot that is the Halogens: sad yet upbeat, simple but groovy, angsty but most definitely enthralling. Chalk all that up with a fuck-off sized serving of relatability and nostalgia, and you’ve got the reason I haven’t put my emo night playlist on all that fucking much since this record danced across my ear drums.
When digging into opening track “Pretty Enough,” it’s almost thoughtless to float past the simplistic and basic composition in lieu of soaking in a tune that speaks to the teenager in oneself. There’s nothing to hate engineering-wise, equally as much to love, and all the more to appreciate. It’s clean, clear, not too dry, not overdone, really and honestly a perfect little emo-rock sound to clear a path for the real star of the show, the tunes themselves.
Being real for a moment, this is by no means a masterpiece but a taste of what could be. Keep floating through the tunes for a perfect example of what these dudes have to offer in the form of “Buckle.” You’ll find a little bit of twang, a heaping helping of groove, word play for days, and a fuckin’ great big slap in the heart strings for anybody else with a crippling daddy issue. The song can’t help but feel like it’s shooting for something that it never quite hits, but maybe that’s what adds to the hopeless feeling of angst in what is for the most part an upbeat effort (see following the banger “Sometimes” for any adhesive proof, if required.)
No, this Happy Hour isn’t going to score anybody a Grammy, and I’d be both impressed and kicking myself in the dick if it even grabs them a little label attention. What Happy Hour does fucking spectacularly here is fill the gap of what the head and heart want when they’re both bummed out but looking for a kind of peppy and heartfelt way up. That is, after all, the fucking point about emo that nobody got to begin with: speaking to you in a way that your sappy ass can relate to. Halogens ain’t no Boss, but without any shadow of a doubt, they’ve kept the candle of New Jersey’s love story with music burning just a tad longer. I mean, Springsteen is still banging like he’s in his fucking twenties, but whatever man.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Kate Erickson