A band of bands – HAiG is hailed across their social media platforms as “the bastard son of Billy Bibby (formerly of Catfish and The Bottlemen, The Wry Smiles) and New York Tourists” – from Blackburn and Llandudno (via Accrington) – their combined experience in the indie scene is substantial and it’s fair to say that echoes of their former musical endeavors shine through in this new outfit. With thundering guitar riffs and honeyed vocals – maybe ‘lovechild’ would be more of a pleasing epithet?
Signed to Golden Robot Records, the band formed in mid ’19 and are completed by Carl Rutherford and Joe Mooney of New York Tourists. Following up their debut single All On Us – this 5-track release is a blend of blissful sing-a-long indie rock.
Recorded with Manchester-based Dave Pemberton – who’s worked with everyone from The Prodigy, Groove Armada, Y.O.U.N.G and Trampolene. It includes recent singles ‘Did I Just Make You Smile?’ and ‘Never Enough’. The latter (and opener) proving its single status as a stand out track – a frenetic first song with a heavy rhythm section and catchier chorus than most as the words trip off the tip of Bibby’s tongue with speed.
Similarly, fellow single ‘Did I Just Make You Smile?’ is radio-friendly as it is earworm-worthy. Edgy guitar pop at its finest paired with the melodic euphony of Bibby’s vocals.
Title and closing track ‘Freeze The World‘ – which also serves as a closer for the band’s sets – is a slow-burning builder hopping along from soft and sweet to an aggressive crescendo. Expecting an Abba-inspired tune on this record? Neither were we. But ‘Our Times’ is in fact a nod to the Swedish supergroup’s hit ‘Mamma Mia’. Realistically, the similarities start and end with a like-minded chord progression and a tad of nostalgia, but certainly an uplifting track nonetheless.
The real break from form comes in ‘Just Like The Others’. A self-confessed contradiction – not just in style, but in title to meaning. Much more grungey in sound than the rest, the song speaks of finding someone who’s different and NOT ‘just like the others’ as the title states – the off-kilter sound is sharper, vocals less smooth and the chorus feels ever-so clunky – perhaps purposely so. While retaining HAiG’s signature strong guitar riffs throughout, it feels different and it is unsurprising that the track had been on the side-lines waiting before the band’s inception – as it is anything but like the other material.
Overall, Freeze The World is a satisfying soundtrack. 20 minutes of feel good rock n roll that leaves you craving a rowdy gig, pint in your hand, singing your heart out. So while we all might wanna freeze this crazy world we’re living in right now – this EP leaves you feeling on top of it, or at least as high as your mates shoulders can get you.