Eat Meat, Swear an Oath album cover
Eat Meat, Swear an Oath

Hallelujahs

1986
Black Editions (2)

Shinji Shibayama’s first group proper, Hallelujahs, learned all the best lessons from British post-punk – feel is more important than accuracy; the Velvets are your eternal spirit guide – and placed a peculiarly melancholy, hazy spin on things. It’s partly due to their embrace of a nascent, vague psychedelia that can’t help but develop out of blankly strummed guitars, solos scrawled through effects pedals, mind-numbing repetition, and dazed-out, blank-eyed vocals. Other people across the globe were exploring loosely similar ideas, and Eat Meat, Swear An Oath certainly shares mood and spirit with the likes of Opal, Galaxie 500, early Yo La Tengo, 14 Iced Bears, but Hallelujahs sound more disarming – not so much naïve, as willing to let their guard down, to shake off the fetters of ‘cool’, and let their songs be as drony, as cute, as reflective as they need to be. It’s an absolute treat of an album.

Jon Dale

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