Copy Haho | Copy Haho
Slow Learner, 2011
Hailing from a small town near Aberdeen, Scotland, Copy Haho are four agreeable lads who’ve got a thing for pop music and rocking out. After an electrifying EP in 2009, Bred for Skills and Magic, the group has returned with a full length debut, the aptly titled Copy Haho, out now on Slow Learner.
If the effect of titling a record after yourself is to properly introduce the band (i.e. Meet the Beatles or Bob Dylan), then Copy Haho shows us that they’re all about sunny, energetic pop on this eleven track LP. The guitars swing around with a jaunty edge and the vocals come at that mid-tenor range that hovers just below whiny power pop. Introspective lyrics by the group’s singer Joe Hearty have a particular fixation on the difficulties of being in an indie band (“Factory Floor,” “Waiting for Something to Happen”)
It’s a typical pop record, the kind that’s been around for years. It’s got the guitar riffs, the vocal harmonies, and a summery sound that has proven so well over time. Copy Haho are very good at making pop music too; I enjoyed listening to this album far more than other notable indie pop albums from the last two years. But the problem lies in that Copy Haho is a practice in making a particular sound, and it rarely strays from the very basic “four sweaty boys with guitars having a good old time” ethos. The redundancy of the verse and chorus guitar songs makes the moments of this 37-minute record blend together after a while. The whole middle of the record feels like a blur of twirling melodies and hits to the snare drum. Listening through, it was easy to get really pumped up by “Wrong Direction,” but by the time the album reaches its center on “Demons and Gods” that amped feeling became mild confusion of the “haven’t I heard this before?” variety. The overall sameness of the tracks drags the record down.
Personal feelings on this record are as jumpy as Copy Haho’s sound. After listening to it for what my iTunes assures me is at least a dozen times (probably more because I burned it to a CD-R to take in my car), I start to see where the album is on point and where it goes a bit wrong. The album is bookended by some very stellar tracks (“Wrong Direction,” “Pestle and Mortar,” “Accent Changed”) but again, the middle leaves something to be desired, something more reflective or softer-edged perhaps. A break from the storm of guitars and drums that make me bob my head and dance around my bedroom. To my American ears, Hearty’s vocals were muddied in his Scottish brogue (a problem also encountered when listening to Frightened Rabbit and the Twilight Sad). There’s probably something in those thick tongued ululations that I’m missing, but I won’t really know until I’ve listened to it enough to make out the syllables.
To summarize, Copy Haho is worth the buy, although Bred for Skills and Magic is probably the better choice if you want the best this band can offer. Copy Haho are young, and incredibly bold for the path they’ve chosen, for which I have total respect. It’s evident in this record and their rock-the-shit live performances that they love their jobs, and it’s that heart and soul that make the best pop groups.