Hallelujah the Hills – No One Knows What Happens Next

January 01, 1970

(Discrete
Pageantry)

 

www.hallelujahthehills.com

 

“No One
Knows What Happens Next” is the shortest, least consequential song on
Hallelujah the Hills’ third full-length, a blur of organ tones and distant
voices that is over in less than a minute. Yet, in a very real sense, this blip
on the screen telegraphs the Boston-based band’s nervy uncertainty about the
path it has taken. With No One Knows What
Happens Next
, Ryan Walsh and company have parted ways with Misra and
embarked on an alternative way of financing their art. Recording for this album
was funded through Kickstarter, while additional costs – CD pressing,
marketing/pr and so on – will come from tour receipts.
 

 

Walsh has
always been creative about finding funding – an album for a predecessor project
called Stairs was funded through a community block grant (and featured lots of
neighbors singing and playing instruments).  Yet it’s not hard to sense a pall over this
album, as if decades of shuffling and scheming and planning – just to gather
the money to make music – has taken a toll, not on the quality of the work but
on the enthusiasm with which it is made.

 

All this
is a long-winded way of saying that No
One Knows
is more downbeat than previous Hallelujah the Hills outings,
warier, more contained and considerably less exuberant. There are still massed
horn sections and all-hands, group-shouted choruses, but less of them. There’s
a lot more smoulder between the explosions. “Get Me in a Room,” the album’s
first single, sounds like Telephono-era
Spoon, taut, world-weary, minimalist and the opposite of the giddy, literate excesses you expect from Hallelujah
the Hills. “Nightingale Lightning” is more true to form, bulging with trumpet
solos and weird string-and-opera-singer-samples and unstoppable in its
upslanting chorus. Yet there’s no mistaking the disgruntled, discouraged tone
of an album that includes songs titled “Care to Collapse,” “Dead People’s
Music” and “Hello, My Destroyer.”

 

No One Knows is a
subtle album, one that requires time and patience to allow its hooks to sink in.
There are few of the ramshackle, fist-pumping climaxes that punctuated Collective Psychosis Begone, less of the
buoyant surrealities of Colonial Drones.
You have the sense, not of triumph, but of survival.  A couple of years ago, in the band-titled song
“Hallelujah the Hills,” everybody was shouting group “Heys” and throwing their
arms in the air. Now, a tireder, more realistic Walsh is murmuring about how
“I’m gonna change my game, till the game changes me.”  

 

And yet,
you get the sense that the same thing that moved Hallelujah the Hills to
celebration will, ultimately, get them through. The community that banded
together to pay for No One Knows is a primary influence here, in the massed
arrangements and multivoiced choruses, in the crazed marching band overload
that, despite a darker tone, manages to creep in here and there. “People breathe
into other people and bring them back to life,” Walsh sings, late in the album,
his voice getting stronger with each repetition. Making art has never been
harder, and no one does know what will happen next. Personally, I would bet on
bands like Hallelujah the Hills, who have been able to connect with their
audiences in a real, communal, mutually supportive way.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Nightingale
Lightning” “The Game Changes Me” JENNIFER
KELLY

 

 

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