It’s a ballsy move to rename your band after you’ve had some notoriety. The Olympics decided to go back into the studio after their 2012 album with renewed commitment. They also decided it was time to change the band name to Halfloves — as a reboot as well as to fix nagging web search problems for people trying to find them (and to avoid any issues surrounding use of that name from the International Olympic Committee).
The band has crafted a masterpiece of dark moody pop with help from trendy Iowa producer Brandon Darner (Imagine Dragons, Holy White Hounds). The new album has its roots in The Olympics, but with the firm hand of Darner the band has much more confidence and polish. A focus on melancholy keyboards and bass guitar gives the album a vibe that reminds me of the post-punk “New Romantic” New Wave sound of bands like Talk Talk and Roxy Music and, more recently Phoenix, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers (before Brandon Flowers decided to be Bruce Springsteen).
The ropeadope of pop hooks on Halfloves keep your head spinning. Every song on this album is unapologetically loaded with them. The latest single “Not Too Keen” is anchored in the percussive, muted guitars and syncopated drums. Jeff Roalson sings, “Dissatisfied with the ones with their eyes open wide,” hitting the beats the other instruments skip. The polyrhythm is nearly tribal. Then the soaring, chanting chorus hits in halftime — “I’m not too keen on those tales.”
Halfloves is the sound of a band taking their sound to the next level in pop music songwriting with hopes of taking this love to a wider audience. The occasional honest-to-goodness band makes Top 40 radio, and I think Halfloves have a shot.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 195.