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"I'm completely operational and all my circuits are functioning perfectly."
I had it in my head that the Dublin band (and new Rough Trade signings) Hal were named after the HAL 9000 computer responsible for the above quote. [And many quotes too, visit 2001: A Space Odyssey Sound Archive for more] I was very surprised when I caught then live the other night in Belfast to find that they're inspired by another Hal, namely Hal David of Bacharach and David fame. I guess the imminent hype and the fact that they're a melodic pop band from Dublin will invite lots of comparisons with the Thrills, but hopefully they can prove that they're unique in their own right. Yes, there are plenty of harmonies and keyboards, and if they lean in the direction of Brian Wilson's 'Sail on Sailor' and the aforementioned Bacharach and David they could be on to something. That is easier said than done though, and a couple of times they fell into Costello/ Supertamp territory - the lead vocal and piano pieces in particular set my teeth on edge. Ouch.
Overall though, I have to say I see what the fuss is about and it'll be interesting to hear the album when it emerges later on in the year.

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