Half Alive often make appearances in my weekly music fix playlist and I have mentioned them in my posts several times. Their creative and uplifting merge of alternative-pop, rock, indie, and modern electronic tunes serves to create one of the most distinguishable sounds in today’s music scene. And this is just one of the many great things about the California-based trio.
Even though I included their full-length debut Now, Not Yet in my list of 2019 must-hear albumsI didn’t look close enough at it to produce a post about it. Now that I have given it the attention it deserves I want to share my thoughts on what makes it such a great record.
Debuts have always been of great interest to me – anticipation and excitement are overflowing, especially if it concerns a band you have seen display their capabilities in singles and EPs before. Now, Not Yet is certainly one debut leveling-up the expressed potential in previous releases and showing that the band in question is steadily walking towards even bigger feats. There is an impressive lyrical build-up and the full essence of the band stamped on the record.
I personally associate Half Alive with the unique atmosphere of uplifting tunes and thought-provoking lyrics presented in the form of metaphors and hidden symbolic references. It is a true delight to dive deeper into the meaning of their music but the best part is that equal attention is given to the soundscape environment created around it – mixing various influences and creating something I would describe as ambient-alt-pop-rock-electronic-dance-bliss.
And no, it doesn’t end there – the coherence is preserved in the distinct choreography visible in their music videos and live shows. It’s a full package of true well-executed art which is a delight both for the eyes and the ears. All of this is wrapped around Now, Not Yet as well.
One of my favourites from the older release – showcases the charm of the band quite well
The symbolism and general concept of Now, Not Yet is hard to miss. The tracks in the record are united under the idea of finding acceptance and peace in your current stage of life and being contempt with your imperfections. A large part of the tracklist pays close attention to coping with a turbulent situation/mindset and finding the balance in the unavoidable mess of life.
This is established clearly with the title and fitting artwork symbolizing the positive aspect of the negative situation (dancing and enjoying the time despite the negative/missing headspace).
Opener Ok?Ok is a great introduction to the album – it has the appropriate instrumental and occasional rock riffs to kickstart the experience we are about to have. The particular song uses lyrical and visual storytelling (video) to describe the process of finding the way of being okay with yourself despite the pressure of other people or personal expectations.
In general, Now, Not Yet has an inspirational and empowering undertone leaving listeners with motivation and hope. Overcoming pressure, stress, and the fact that we are all unsure of our paths and the directions life takes us are constant themes in the record.
Runaway, for example, utilizes the synchronized rhythm and singing to point out the importance of accepting imperfections and lack of progression at times. It ends with unavoidable contempt with your own identity and realizing that running away from yourself is not necessary – a truly empowering message served on groovy, dancy instrumentals that literally make you dance your worries away.
Breakfast, Still Feel, Maybe, Ice Cold, Arrow, and Rest all have a similar idea in their core but take a closer look at different aspects to take out the positivity amidst the confusion and turbulence.
Apart from the diverse but united themes it is worth noticing the distinctive sound which somehow differs in each song – the unmistakable groovy instrumentals are accompanied by different elements switching between up and down tempo rhythms to perfectly match the atmosphere of each song.
Still Feel is a great example – the song deals with the challenges of seeing your potential and endurance capabilities while being “half alive”. High tempo sound and artistic choreography transmit the idea of the song to perfection and make the metaphors and symbolism shine bright.
I consider Maybe one of the strongest tracks on Now, Not Yet. The simple but very effective concept makes it incredibly appealing and a great reminder for “darker days”. It talks about a negative perspective and the trapped feeling when something unpleasant is occupying our minds. The song uses “maybe” as a pivotal element showing that a slight drop of positivity can make a huge difference in this type of situation.
Maybe it’s not over
Changing is found in motion
Maybe there’s balance when you’re moving
Ice Cold – a beautiful collaboration with New Zealand multi-genre phenomenon Kimbra also puts a heavy focus on finding strength to keep a positive outlook during unpleasant times. Using different methods the song achieves an equally inspiring effect.
And while Breakfast directs us towards using vulnerabilities and openness as sources of strength Arrow and Rest remind us about the importance of slowing down every once in a while. Arrow uses a dancy mood and addictive instrumental build-up while Rest opposes the hustle and bustle type of lifestyle defined by chasing money and forgetting about personal happiness and calmness.
It is not a secret that Half Alive is a band sharing a belief in God. This is clearly expressed in Now, Not Yet and used to compliment the empowering calls for trust, positivity, and appreciation.
The best part about this incorporation is that it is not intrusive at all. Actually, almost all songs in the record have elements of Christian faith incorporated in them in subtle or more obvious ways but they can still be interpreted differently according to individual perspective.
Creature, Trust, and Pure Gold have those elements which can also be seen as a praise of human nature and equal acceptance of positives and negatives. Creature shows imperfection as well as holiness of human character then proceeds to play with opposites and reaches the climactic conclusion which can also easily sum up the entire album – “I identify the echo of what is and what will be”.
Pure Gold uses motion and static to represent self-reflection, realization of worth, and finding balance. Trust is more clearly focused on the Christian faith and explores the conflict of finding the strength to keep trusting and remaining true to your beliefs even in situations when it is hard to do that.
The song features the expression “now, not yet” to symbolize trusting the present and knowing it is part of the journey, not the end destination. The song also touches on the topic of doubt and uncertainty which makes it very real and close to heart for people who have been in the described situation.
Half Alive never stop showcasing their artistic nature and stepping-up their game with each new release
Now, Not Yet is a coherent manifestation of a belief system and learned lessons of empowerment and inspiration. Half Alive managed to level-up their already marvellous signature style and present a state of mind all of us have to face sooner or later. The merge of interconnected themes is impressive and the combination of different elements making the songs visualize in the listener’s mind is not something anyone can pull off.
In case you enjoyed Now, Not Yet don’t miss out on In Florescence which is a spectacular reimagination of the world the debut album already painted effectively. The band is joined by an orchestra to recreate four songs in a way more majestic, artistic, and impactful way – it is definitely worth checking out.
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