The Hairs, “My Battleaxe”

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The freak pop act weds the tender and the barbarian.

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Amelia Pitcherella | May 19, 2016

The Hairs

With The Hairs, Kevin Alvir’s been writing attentive lo-fi tunes that comfort and shock. Included in the slew of EPs and singles The Hairs have released in the past five years are titles like “DUMB PEOPLE TALK ABOUT their LIVES” and “FEED ME WITH YOUR EMAILS”—there’s plenty of irreverence to their approach—but in each song there’s also a palpable tenderness. The past few months have been quiet for the trio of Alvir, Jacob Sloan and Steve Tarkington, but next month they’ll release a full-length, While, I Hated Life, Barbarian.

“My Battleaxe” is the commanding second single from the new record. A tad more hi-fi than usual, it’s loud and instantly catches on, while the heart of everything The Hairs have released to date stays lodged right where it always was. There’s residue of the jangling sounds out of Flying Nun’s catalog circa the early nineties here, and Alvir’s melodic ear seems deeply attuned to writing from the same era. Though the instrumentation is bright—the layering of different guitars, some wavy synths, tambourine—it spins a dizzy sense of desperation, like searching around blindfolded and then having your eyes uncovered and realizing what you were looking for was never there to begin with. “We became barbarians / I just wish I had that time again,” Alvir sings, before asking “Where did my battleaxe go? / And will my battleaxe come back?” In his pressing words he’s instilled the feeling that maybe this is the time he’s lost it for good—never really the case, but easy to believe when you’re feeling low. Alvir says that the song and the record came from a place of total personal loss:

I was really obsessed with barbarian imagery. Dungeons & Dragons kinda stuff. At the time, I had a relationship end… and that spelled the end of a lot of things for me. I felt like I lost connection with a lot of friends and it just felt like my world had just ended. Everything was upside down. I just hated life. Somehow writing these songs for this album “While I Hated Life, Barbarian” seemed really easy and natural. There was no premeditation about it.

This song “My Battleaxe” sums up the album for me. I’ve been rebuilding my life since—which was a while ago now. I’ve done a lot since for sure, but I also realize now there was a lot missing before that relationship came and went. I guess that’s what I’m figuring out now. Rock n’ Roll, huh?

While, I Hated Life, Barbarian is due out June 24 on Old Flame Records, and you can hear it below. You can catch The Hairs at NYC Popfest this weekend.

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