The genesis of The Hallway is a rather interesting one. A confluence of musical strands from various latter and present day bands, this (member squared)*2 formation has quite the pedigree with Andreas*2 and Simen*2 coming from the good stock of Team Me, BLØSH, Carnival Kids & Co.
First formed in 2015, The Hallway had the domestic release of their debut mini-album ‘Vestad’ earlier this year. It has now seen the light of Norwegian day in vinyl format, whilst simultaneously being unleashed onto the international market in digital form, all making for an incredibly busy promotional period for this talented quartet.
The band played Øya’s Klubbdagen earlier this month, which by all accounts was amazeballs; alas I did not get the full The Hallway experience due to my having a prior engagement with one Hanne Kolstø. Judging by the hyperbolic reviews however, I wasn’t missed!
While it would be a natural reaction to compare and contrast the outputs of The Hallway with their various antecedents and/or alter-egos, I’ll leave that to others to verbalise. Instead, I’ll move straight to ‘Vestad‘.
This hexagon opens with a forty second instrumental amuse bouche. A slightly jarring salutation, ‘Hello’ is a brief scoop of dry acoustic guitar shot with a dash of drone. Next up ‘Used to Know‘, and from the off you’re up to your neck in Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo and Ash.
Clean guitar lines are petulant in the face of the driving force of the bass, constantly pushing it back under the covers of classic rock drumming. This is so multi layered that the guitars sound like an angry mob whose insistent metronomic rhythm drives straight through its heart via some pretty delightful xylophone twinkles.
Whether by default or too many years spent digesting American TV shows, more than many male Norwegian singers have a soft American inflection to their icy falsetto, the combination of which should land them somewhere in central Canada, but instead tends to put them in Billy Corgan territory.
The Hallway front-man Simen Schikulski’s vocal falls into that bracket, his voice having similar control, tension and attitude to the Smashing Pumpkin lead. Schikulski, a master of nuance in a manner similar to Tim Wheeler, also has the same warm melodic undertones to his voice as the Downpatrick rocker.
Where ‘Used to Know’ is in rousing Pumpkins’ terroir, nostalgic ‘Stay and Grow Old‘ is definitely in the anthemic rock-god mould of Green Day.
Here The Hallway have taken a tried and tested ‘All American’ alt-rock formula and converted it into an adrenalin pumper of a track with an huge sound to which they’ve added sprinkles of effulgent synth.
Yet, despite the fact that all the key ingredients are here – soaring melodies, thrum and pump, thrashing drums, fierce guitar sequences and wistful, wishful vocals, it somehow lacks bang for its buck. Notwithstanding that, it’s a quality, old school, classic indie rock anthem that is no doubt an huge crowd-rouser at the band’s live shows.
Next up is the track ‘Best Regards’ bringing with it a radical change in both tempo and direction. Shifting down gears to a rock-ballad that echoes mid-80s U2, ‘Best Regards’ catches the attention from the outset, holding it, very firmly in the grip of its vast yet pared back sound.
It kicks off with a melodramatic medley of noises similar to an orchestral warm up, before sliding into an acoustic guitar Cobain like rant that lasts for little over a minute. A vehicle for Schikulski to vent his frustration, it’s a contradiction in terms, with it’s laid back slacker instrumental at odds with the trenchant vocal. Despite its brevity and irascible timbre, ‘Best Regards’ lures and fixes you like velcro into its micro-web.
One of my favourite tracks from ‘Vestad’.
Penultimate track ‘Million Ways’ is a bit more of the same (‘S&GO’) quintessential American College cum alt-rock. Less tightly compacted, there’s a bit more space to the sound, and notwithstanding the addition of drum rolls, handclaps and more obvious synth lines, this is already charted territory.
With all the hyperventilating rise and fall of a heart monitor, the track rushes along like an unstoppable train: it’s a short, sharp rock shock, sure to liven things up and get the kids pogoing in any mosh-pit.
The EP or mini-album wraps with what is possibly its best track, ‘Air/Closer’. Definitely in the Green Day space, this is a darkly, intense thrum backlit by an incandescent chorus. A finger-pointing, garrulous swipe at humanity viz our destruction of the environment, it’s a perfect manifestation of The Hallway’s keen vocal and instrumental talents, and as close to elegant as a rock track comes: there is something sublime about synth sampling strings that bring a discerning pathos to rock tracks.
Sometimes less is more and the restraint on this track allows the bands well honed musicianship to shine through. A chord change build, a ruffle of portentous guitar licks and a drum solo with intent bring everything neatly to a close.
Something tells me the best is yet to come from The Hallway. The quality song writing and talented musicianship are most definitely there, but their sound needs a little more exploration and evolution to bring it to the point where it will be both readily identifiable, and define them as a band.
To use a ragged cliché, The Hallway are definitely ‘ones to watch’. Hopefully they will give themselves the time and creative space to realise their true potential on their next recorded endeavours. 7/10.
- Used To Know
- Stay & Grow Old
- Best Regards
- Million Ways