Two years after their debut self-titled album, H a lot return with a new EP. They released a single earlier in 2020, but this is a more comprehensive EP, once again showcasing member’s talents. WE ARE brings three new songs with three previously released tracks getting a remaster. What WE ARE actually does is cement H a lot’s place in Korea’s modern rock genre.
I’ve felt that H a lot and TAE:A are the successors to Yellow Monsters which Jinyoung and Jaehyuk were integral parts of. After listening to those these two 2020 releases, both bands take elements from Yellow Monsters but move beyond the previous band’s limitations. “We are” is an amalgamation of every member’s experience. I can hear pieces of Junghun‘s COREMAGAZINE, Gyouhyun‘s Nevada 51, and the end result is something original. The self-titled album felt a little safe, going to comfortable places, but WE ARE moves beyond that with each track feeling much stronger and cohesive. “We are” is like a reintroduction to where the band is aiming to go.
I missed H a lot’s singles for “History,” “Frequency,” and “Whistle” so listening to them now, they sound like a transition point between the self-titled to the resulting EP. “History” has a wide melodic rock presentation complete with guitar solo and feels like it’d be best heard at a outdoor festival. “Frequency” is a bit more my style, though it reminded my a bit of 24 Hours in the intro. The melodic rock style of the band is highlighted on pretty much every verse and even when there aren’t vocals the instrumentals keep everything interesting. “Whistle” has an intro bass line that sounds very familiar but I can’t place where I’ve heard it before. Otherwise, it’s a great track that might sit behind stronger singles, but serves as an excellent b-side.
“Higher” presents itself as a high energy Galaxy Express-type track, but without the crunchy distortion. It’s a groove-focused track provided by the bass and drum beats which are easily heard in the mix. The vocals glide over every verse and the build up to the chorus is one of the best of the year.
“The night” is H a lot’s slower tempo rock ballad. It’s relatively low key compared to other songs, allowing a lot of empty moments to prepare for the crescendo to the chorus. I think this is the track that lets Gyouhun’s vocals get noticed. He’s able to add more energy and emotion. The four minutes go by quickly, but the song lingers in your mind.
H a lot didn’t need to improve on their composition or arrangements from the first release. What happened is the band found a more cohesive voice and everything is flowing together to produce even better songs. The EP’s release at the end of 2020 is one of the best closers with every track on the EP speaking to a different audience while the overall tone lifts you up.