Modern culture is a complex system that shapes our perceptions of social situations, over-arching media, and relationships. It informs and acts as the gatekeeper to help people learn how to act in social situations and allows them to look deep within themselves and search for inner peace. These issues vary across listeners, which explains the diversity of genres and sub-genres, as people indulge in whatever feels right. Spanning all of these varieties, the message stays the same: there are others who feel the same way you do. This emotional connectivity offers the feeling of escape for the listener through challenging them to attack their burdens head on.
This is why a majority of albums, including Healos’ debut Full Circle, feel like a journey across an emotional plane. Haelos’ journey is fueled by their curiosity on every song. They take nothing for granted and ask poignant questions, which creates an experience that surrounds the listener in a sprawling landscape full of wondrous sounds, playful reverb and sincere lyrics.
Haelos distorts their curiosity with low-level daze electronica and indie-pop scattered throughout the whole record. Nothing ever feels rushed; each change is calculated to ensure that every note and lyric hit home. It gives Full Circle an electronically sparse vibe, guided by the alternating vocals of Lotti Benardout, Arthur Delaney and Dom Goldsmith. The harmonious design of the songs allows all three to flex their vocal strengths and complement each other’s sound. Other than being pleasing, it puts the listener in the room as they flesh out their issues almost allowing them to partake in the discussion.
Haelos’ curiosity theme works well with their album title Full Circle. Our actions are easier to question and examine once we realize their cyclical nature. The album touches on large life moments like love, heartbreak and searching. Using a cyclical pattern, Benardout, Delaney and Goldsmith trade lyrical barbs as they explore, trying to learn from past mistakes. Worried about the “sheep” mentality of society, the song “Oracle” dances in between uncertainty of fitting in or sticking out. This oscillation is reinforced on “Pray” as they soar for a better future or as they come crushing back to down to Earth on “Dust”. This back and forth is continuous throughout Full Circle as the band looks to find their moral footing.
As their confidence grows, Haelos starts to touch on heavier subjects like spirituality and loneliness. Benardout, Delaney and Goldsmith struggle to find meaning — looking both inward and outward to find their happiness. Slowly, this happiness wanes as life’s cyclical nature firmly grasps them and they too start to feel helpless. The album ends contemplatively Haelos looks to address what happens after their “full circle” is complete. Hope and false conviction abound throughout this album, leaving little resolved. Even the ending is undefined. Haelos signs off their album with “It’s all right when your light goes,” encouraging the listener to seek comfort with the questions the album raised.
Haelos starts their musical career strong on Full Circle by drawing from past influences and infusing their own sound into a tired genre. However, it is not without faults. Some songs drag on, and other intros could instead be interludes. In the end, Full Circle’s social commentary only suffers from its lack of conviction. Some of their ideas are pleasant “food for thought” moments, but the general edge is lost due to the lack of in-depth analysis. However, their overall message deserves repetition and reminds the listener to live and love better.
– Eric N.