ARTIST: HALFNOISE

TITLE: NATURAL DISGUISE

LABEL: LAB RECORDS

RATING: 7.5/10

WORDS: JO COSGROVE

They say that by not not learning from history’s mistakes, one is doomed to repeat them. But if you learn enough from history, you can gather the knowledge to rework it for the future. And that’s exactly what Zac Farro has been working on with his psych-rock project, HalfNoise. Being his focus during his break away from Paramore, Farro has worked hard over the years with HalfNoise. Playing around with different sounds, blending genres, and trying to achieve that nostalgic-meets-unfamiliar excitement within his music – and it’s now come to its greatest point with ‘Natural Disguise‘.

The key theme throughout ‘Natural Disguise‘ is a lack of expectation. Since 2012, it’s been a continuous journey to find exactly where the band lands with their genre, and mixing it up and experimenting is every musician’s favourite game, a trial and error activity that everyone takes part in: musicians, producers, writers, and the fans. Farro settled on this new wave of classic rock; taking the evolution between the 60s and the 90s to form a sound that will hopefully stay within the upcoming 2020s.

“Farro settled on this new wave of classic rock; taking the evolution between the 60s and the 90s to form a sound that will hopefully stay within the upcoming 2020s”

A prime example is ‘Who Could You Be’, an early track on the record. Made up of steady riffs and echoing vocals, it warps time back to the 1970s. Usually, what strikes interest in a rock song in recent times is layers, both emotionally and musically. Lines upon lines, percussions upon drums, and it wows the crowds every time – but maybe it’s not always necessary. What seems to be the trick for ‘Who Could You Be’ is it charms without a complex composition, nor lyrics that leave it all up for interpretation. This is key for what Farro was homing in on with HalfNoise: where he’s worked on multi-layered projects with others, this was his chance to strip it down to its basics and take everything hands-on with how he structures it together.

Unpredictability, however, takes its course as the record progresses with tracks like ‘Moody Disco Blue’. Taking on a sunny feel-good beat of days gone by with distorted instrumentation and mechanically altered vocals, it breathes new life into the fusion of old souls. Carrying a sound that’s been taking over the pop-punk genre through acts such as IDKHow and even Farro’s own, Paramore.

“Reinvention is key in the music industry, and the past will always influence the future”

The role that ‘Natural Disguise‘ can play in the industry is it breaks up the noise of the heavier end of alternative: hardcore and contemporary punk, which are on the rise and will continue to do so. But certain sounds, styles, textures will always live on and never grow old or tired, even in the more romantic and emotional side of the record, within ‘Beautiful Someone’. A calm, sweet ballad that feels like it was plucked right out of the summer of love itself, it resonates deeply and beautifully. If a tune can have the same effect 50 years apart – which it has the potential to – then there’s something done right.

What HalfNoise has achieved within ‘Natural Disguise‘ again isn’t the newest concept, but the elements it takes from the past are what makes it catchy, what makes it fun, and what’ll please fans who have joined the journey over the years. Reinvention is key in the music industry, and the past will always influence the future.

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