Review Summary: drugs have never been better.
It’s always unfortunate when bands with enormous potential never manage to capitalise on their talent, leaving realised fans holding on dearly to whatever little material they can find. Alison’s Halo is one such band– forming in ’92, they fit right into the shoegaze/dream pop sensation that swept across the UK and US in the early to mid 90s. Though there are distinct differences between the styles of the European and American shoegaze counterparts, these differences are generally subtle and not always easily discernible. Thus, it came as a bit of a shock to me after some time of listening to this record that Alison’s Halo was actually an Arizonan group, and not British as I had originally suspected. The airy female vocals and sweeping melodies have Slowdive
written all over, and the simple quality of the songs didn’t really reflect what I already knew of American shoegaze. Nonetheless, they are
an American group, and despite never having really achieved much in terms of musical output, this compilation contains some of the best pop infused shoegaze songs a dreamer could ever dream.
is a compilation of songs the band had recorded from their formation up until 1996. Seeing as it’s just a collection of material from a four year period, it’s hard to really comment on any stylistic or thematic continuity that the album may have, but there certainly is a tangible flow to it – there is no alternating production quality as some compilations unfortunately have, and the way in which the songs are ordered (whether it was on purpose or not I cannot say) makes the entire thing all the more inviting. The compilation opens with not only the best song, but the best three songs – not only are they amazing pop songs, they’re also the most accessible on the record and best at displaying exactly what Alison’s Halo is all about. These then create a sort of path into the later, somewhat longer songs such as ‘Slowbleed’ and ‘Torn’, which are equally as good but require a little more dedication.
If any comparisons are to be made, Slowdive and their renown Souvlaki
record comes to mind, with sprinklings of other prominent UK shoegaze groups such as Lush
. The usual angelic vocals and melancholic vibes that characterise these bands is very prominent in Alison’s Halo’s sound, but it is executed here with a sense of charm which sets it apart and gives it a somewhat more refined personality. The drone influenced paranoia of US shoegaze as can be heard in groups like Bethany’s Curve
is noticeably absent, allowing it to be better compared to the earlier British groups. Unfortunately for us, Eyedazzler
is basically the only coherent record one can hear from the group. Since its release in 1997, only a very unfavourably reviewed EP was released and another EP of older material. Perhaps the obscurity of the band adds to its appeal, but the strength of this album alone makes it a very worthwhile shoegaze record.