Rough Trade Records – 2005 – 43 minutes

Irish pop music owes a lot to the melodic style of The Beach Boys lately, with Dublin quintet The Thrills taking much inspiration from Brian Wilson et al. Now fellow Dubliners Hal have hopped on the bandwagon with their self-titled debut. Unfortunately, as a homage to 1960s pop, 'Hal' gives the impression that we've heard it all before.

The songs sound good, with the memorable 'Worry about the Wind' sitting nicely alongside the toe-tapping 'Don't Come Running'. There's some lovely sentiment on 'Keep Love as Your Golden Rule' and 'My Eyes Are Sore' is nicely reassuring.

Brothers Paul and David Allen's harmonic vocals are strongly reminiscent of The Beach Boys' warm, mellow tones. The brothers' falsettos even call the sound of the Bee Gees to mind. Their voices sound great, but they're too much like the acts they've modelled themselves on.

In style and sound 'Hal' is too derivative of previous work. The band are extremely good at mimicking their heroes and there's no doubt the songs are infectious, but Hal need to be much less imitative and more innovative.

Katie Moten

Tracklisting: What a Lovely Dance – Play the Hits – Keep Love as Your Golden Rule – Don't Come Running – I Sat Down – My Eyes Are Sore – Fools by Your Side – Worry about the Wind – Satisfied – Slow Down (You've Got a Friend) – Coming Right Over