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The Time The Hour
critics’ darlings shrug off writer’s block for long-awaited return
Olaf Tyaransen, 12 Apr 2012
Six or seven years ago, Dublin’s HAL seemed set to be the next big musical success story to emerge from this island. Signed to Rough Trade by Geoff Travis himself, their self-titled 2005 debut spawned chart hits in Ireland, the UK and France, was nominated for the Choice Music Prize, and topped several prestigious ‘Album of the Year’ lists.
A promising start, but difficult second album syndrome struck with a vengeance. HAL’s momentum was lost when songwriter David Allen succumbed to a crippling bout of writer’s block. Frustrated and unable to complete the record, he left Ireland and took off travelling around the US and mainland Europe, playing singer-songwriter nights in various clubs under different pseudonyms. Confidence eventually restored, he returned here a couple of years ago and the band reconvened.
So finally The Time The Hour has come (the title track opens with a ticking clock). Despite the delay, the band’s sun-drenched sound hasn’t changed significantly. There are mild variations, but from jaunty opening song ‘Magnificent’ to proggy album closer ‘Hannah’, they basically come across like The Beach Boys fronted by a