Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Red Hearse – Half Love

Half ten…


Kayla Beardslee: This is familiar, glittering, Jack Antonoff-y synthpop, but having heard this sound before doesn’t make it any less excellent. Antonoff’s bombastic synth style is most obvious here, but the other members of new group Red Hearse also make their presence known: TDE-affiliated producer Sounwave injects the slightest hip-hop influence into the percussion, and singer-songwriter Sam Dew gives a great performance, managing not to sound strained despite his constant falsetto. During the bridge, Dew even lapses briefly out of falsetto into his lower voice, the bright piano chords and vocoder set aside for a much-needed moment of clarity. It’s not groundbreaking pop, but it doesn’t need to be — “Half Love” is extravagant, exuberant, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Alfred Soto: Aware of its pedigree, I gave it a dutiful second listen. The wanness of white falsetto will never stop fascinating me, nor the number of wannabes who try it because one guy (i.e. Charlie Puth) got away with it. 

Ian Mathers: I don’t have as strong an opinion on J**k A******f’s (that’s how you spell it, right? that’s what I always see on Twitter) work as I suspect many around here do, partly because I’ve just never looked up a list of everything he’s done. This seems fine! The falsetto is nice, the backing is s l i g h t l y more interesting than it needs to be. Decent radio fodder I’d never investigate further, really.

Michael Hong: I keep trying to justify the use of Sam Dew’s constant falsetto throughout the track, especially when the smoothest part is when he drops down an octave on the second verse. Sure, it makes an interesting contrast to Jack Antonoff’s signature drums and synths and added flourishes across the instrumental. And sure, Sam Dew is still smooth and soulful in falsetto, but it really pales in comparison to his voice in the lower register, and man do I wish his falsetto was used much more sparingly.

Vikram Joseph: What if falsetto, but too much?

Kylo Nocom: Antonoff is not the first nor the last producer-dude to have a severe case of stylistic hubris, but with his name attached to a single like this he’s downright entering self-parody: unseemly vocoder effects, piano dramatics, and canned string samples galore! Sounwave surely did something here (perhaps that nice percussion in the first minute?), but there’s too many of the Antonoff branded trademarks to really care, and too much of Sam Dew’s wimpy falsetto to notice. The bridge’s valiant attempt at production humility fails for relying upon Dew’s unappealing lower range mutters. Half-assed songwriting returns half-hearted results.

Joshua Copperman: Who told Jack Antonoff to make “ME!” but with robot sound effects? Who told Sam Dew to falsetto all over the bridge? How did Sounwave also produce one of the most satisfying beats of this decade when he can’t save this from being a wilted “Sunflower”? There are enough pretty melodies and details to save this from being a complete wash, but a group of disparate collaborators should not produce something so bland. Only a genius could make this supergroup work.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Nothing’s wrong here– everyone is too good at their day jobs for the production on this to be anything but spotless. And Sam Dew’s voice is great– he sounds like a Sean Mendes who can sing! But “Half Love” refuses to click. It’s a set of good performances and catchy effects with no interiority, and an ertatz feeling that never goes away.

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One Response to “Red Hearse – Half Love”

  1. I didn’t really like “Money Machine” by 100 gecs, but Joshua Minsoo Kim’s review of the song offered up worthwhile insight — “that the second half of this decade hasn’t really seen much creative advancement in the world of music.” I doubted it at first (and still kinda do), but I find no song on this site that portrays his words better than “Half Love,” which seems copy-pasted from POWERS’ “Loved by You,” with an intro that could segue right back into 2015 hit.

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