Archive for the ‘Have A Nice Life’ Category

Sounds Like Hell: Have a Nice Life

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

As New York’s costs of living rose in the late 80s and gentrification swept through the one-time punk strongholds of Greenwich Village and its surrounds, the exodus drive punk kids north. Connecticut – a longtime option for New York exiles – became punk and hardcore’s new east coast stomping grounds. Plenty of bands stuck with the guitar-drums-vocals-aggression formula, but new generations took cues from emotional hardcore and post-punk, finding room for experimentation in synths, effects and slowing down the metronome.

Have a Nice Life might have their roots in Connecticut’s hardcore history, but that influence is filtered through a synth-infused existential dread that owes more to Joy Division than Black Flag. On their 2008 debut Deathconsciousness – recently reissued by venerable San Francisco label The Flenser – HANL are at once full of hope and utterly hopeless. “Music Will Untune The Sky” recalls the uplifting neo-folk of Akron/Family, but it’s followed by “Cropsey”, an unsettling sample of a reporter’s discussion with a child at a mental facility that explodes into a rapid-fire assault of hammering synthetic percussion and vocalist Dan Barrett’s anguished utterances.

There’s this persistent sense of drowning across these two records – reverb is so overused that it completely destroys any sense of space or acoustics. Album closer “Emptiness Will Eat The Witch” is the closest thing minimalism on the whole record, but it’s one of the most emotionally loaded tracks I’ve ever heard – the short piano riff gives way to layers upon layers of vocal howls, to the point of complete devastation. It’s an ugly and depressing but painfully beautiful way to close an emotional gut-punch of an album.