Review Summary: A good album, helped by solid guitar playing, but greatly marred by too much of the same.
Luna Halo, being a guitar pop band focused on “songwriting”, probably never would have made it had they not somehow landed a deal with the NHL and the television show “The King of Queens”. While its still a hotly debatable topic whether they actually have made it anyways, Luna Halo
is the first recording by band frontman Nathan Barlowe on Columbia records after many strange negotiating coincidences that continually pushed back the release date. So how does the record that makes or breaks Luna Halo pan out" Well, its alright for the most part.
The easiest comparison to make is to brit-pop bands or perhaps a less-”Apocalyptic” Muse. The Barlowe’s (Nathan’s younger brother is the other guitarist) seem to channel Matt Bellamy throughout the album, and at times you could confuse Luna Halo for Muse when they are at their most guitar-heavy. However, the rhythm section is generally to simple to draw many of those comparisons, and the hook-heavy work of the Barlowe’s doesn’t end up comparing to their contemporary. It’s certainly solid for a pop-rock album, and definitely heavier than one might expect.
Despite its sound as a tongue-in-cheek kind of rock band, Barlowe actually decides to write some heady lyrics. Sounding like a cross between Dennis DeYoung of Styx fame and Jeremy Enigk of minor Sunny Day Real Estate fame, Barlowe tackles topics such as drug addiction, hypocrisy, obligatory songs about women, and eventually even the world ending! As original as these topics are and as solid as his delivery is, Barlowe can’t save himself from lyrics like “I never thought I'd lose control /But it seems to happen every time /When the drugs are too powerful”. Filled with cliché after cliché, the songwriting isn’t bad but hardly a talking point.
And that’s much ado with the rest of the record, being that its all solidly performed yet lacks any sort of original touch. The flair Barlowe gives to each song with his guitar playing and voice is ruined by the fact its all straightforward and kind of generic. While following a basic song structure throughout an entire album isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Luna Halo do very little to differentiate each song, and it can get confusing at times trying to remember which is which. He also tends to repeat the same kind of hook pattern throughout all of the songs, which can get repetitive by the end.
is a solid sophomore effort by Barlowe and the rest of Luna Halo, but its bogged down by its own insistence that music can be effective yet simple. The boys aren’t taking chances, but it also sounds like they never even considered the possibility; as if writing these songs is the only thing they could have conceivably done. While the album is far more honest that most other guitar-pop/alternative rock you are going to hear this year, its still far too unremarkable to warrant more than a few plays in your car at most, and a well deserved shrug of indignation at the least.