When a band takes the time to create an album as a single work and does it well, as Iowa City band Halfloves has done with their second album Dazer, the investment of experiencing the whole work pays off.
Overall, Dazer explores a theme of human connection or, in some cases, the lack thereof. There is a subtle, dark undertone to the album that belies it’s electro-pop-with-guitars foundation. The lyrics provide no obvious signposts or details for the listener, but instead present a black mirror of those connections—sometimes bright and hopeful, but ultimately fragile and tentative.
The video for track three, “Polvo,” came out last month, and illustrates the song’s context a little bit. We see the narrator watching his love interest on his computer — he’s an internet stalker, or at least a guy with a strong fascination with someone who only exists on the internet. The word “polvo” describes dust particles; giving the love interest this name adds to the tentative existence of the person on the other side of the screen. The use of morse-code-beeping keyboards under the song is a perfectly on-theme addition.
The song that bubbled to the surface as my favorite over repeated listenings is “Dedication.” The jazzy clean guitar lines really grab me. This song seems to be vaguely about addiction. “You came around like a bad disease / I’m shaking, shivering; you stuck with me.” It kind of flips the idea of “dedication” on its ear, seeming to imply that the addiction is dedicated to the narrator. The cacophonous bridge adds to this by derailing the song for a bit with a dissonant kicking and screaming.
The album isn’t without moments of brightness, however. “Quilted Hearts,” an acoustic guitar snapshot of teenage lust, seems to work as a panacea to the rest of the underlying darkness. It spins seamlessly from the closing of the previous track, “Undone”: “In your heart there’s a song that still needs sung / Open up; you can face what’s yet to come / In the end there’s a reason to carry on.”
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 272.