Indie pop/rock with a gothic edge is the name of the game for New York’s Oh Halo. Their latest album may be entitled ‘Ghosts Can’t Be Buried’ but the spirit of the late 1980’s has been at least partially exhumed on this evidence. Thankfully it’s a good move.
Fronted by the strident vocals of Julie Dicterow, Oh Halo have an immediate USP and with guitar work recalling the post-punk glory years on opener ‘Arthur Martha’, the scene is set for a classy journey into nostalgia. In the first of many twists, ‘Blow’ wheels out some early 80’s keyboards on a song which slowly evolves from a squiggly synth backing into an anthem of yearning and a moody ‘Beau Geste’ follows; the arrangement building impressively and eerily for Dicterow to deliver another dominant performance.
That said, although the album revolves around its main singer, the piano-driven soul of ‘Postscript’ and ‘New York Under The Sea Of Our Dreams’ sound more like solo vehicles for Dicterow (albeit with added muscular rhythms towards the end of the latter track to give it a welcome edge). They sound more like a unit for the ethereal pop of ‘In The Cathedral’, recalling fellow NYC indie band Elika in the process. The lyrics appeal to “Slow it down” and the band comply with a chilled-out, blissful backdrop. Arguably it’s the stand out moment but the band provide other highlights too. Harmonising Dicterow with the baritone of Ronan Conroy is a good move as he adds his brooding presence to ‘Dream Lucy’ and ‘(Gifts Of) A Lesser Man’ whilst Oh Halo even try their hand at a ballad for the last track and achieve surprisingly moving results.
With the safe hands of Her Vanished Grace’s Charlie Nieland overseeing operations, the production is crystal clear, allowing the melodies to flow. Oh Halo may have a 1980’s gothic pop sheen to them but much like the similarly-styled The Attic Ends, they have the distinctive characteristics to make them a band to follow too.
The Attic Ends, Elika, Ending People