Ha the Unclear - "85" (audio) (Premiere)

by Brice Ezell

26 September 2014

The latest tune from New Zealand's Ha the Unclear, "85", takes a journey from a sunny, Beach Boys-indebted opening into something reflective and quite beautiful.

New Zealand trio Ha the Unclear deals in a kind of pop that might be called “retro” or “vintage”. As made clear by the opening passage of “85”, the newest tune from the trio’s forthcoming album Bacterium, Look at Your Motor Go, both in terms of production and songwriting choice, these guys would have been comfortable in the musical environs of the mid-to-late ‘60s. Beginning with a somewhat sunny disposition, buoyed by some Beach Boys-esque backing vocals, the song then takes a turn for the more reflective as it comes to its conclusion, with some wisely placed strings really driving home the song’s emotion.
The song “85” tells the tale of an elderly woman reflecting back on a life affected by patriarchy and religion. Michael Cathro, frontman of the band, tells PopMatters, “I wanted to try and think like somebody who had lived through those things in the song, experiences that might be realistic for someone who is 85. Of course, I’m forever stuck within my own construction of reality so it became this exploration of the impact of social systems on happiness.”

Bacterium, Look at Your Motor Go is out on September 30th in the United States.

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