• Ryan Hope

'Make of It' by half•alive: Schizophrenic Alternative is Catchy as Hell


half•alive doesn’t reinvent the wheel with their latest single ‘Make of It’, instead opting to develop a more refined version of the sound that initially caught listeners’ attention and drove them into the spotlight. It’s a particular blend of rich, spacious synths akin to their closest contemporary, twenty one pilots; paired with sleek, introspective lyrics tinged with a slight spirituality. It’s catchy melody, thunderous percussion and frenzied flow make for a unique alternative anthem.

Admittedly, the AJR comparisons are more warranted here than they have ever been before. With the obscure vocal transformations and pounding 808 baselines are cause for an uncanny resemblance to songs like ‘Break My Face’ from AJR’s Neotheatre. Despite the similitude, the comparisons are arguably unjust, as half•alive explore these sounds and ideas to a considerably deeper level than the typically surface-level lyricism expected from their contemporaries. The band explores seasonal depressiveness to a level of maturity and openness that is refreshingly unique, it’s upfront and raw with its intentions: “winter got me feeling down, next season I’ll come around” and yet brazenly dives into a chaotic spiral “therapy saw me naked, 26 years I’ve wasted, life isn’t what I made it” resembling that of a mental breakdown.

Vocally, frontman Josh Taylor boldly backs this direction. Taylor’s extenuation of his range, notably whilst projecting the pre-chorus, aptly provides the emotional depth to carry the songs concept through flawlessly. There is a powerful contrast between Josh’s vocal timbre that rapidly alternatives throughout the track, going from timid and broken to loud and desperate within a short notice. It effectively sells the idea of an internal conflict between wanting maturity: “life isn’t what I made it, the past is what I make of it” and emotional disarray: “didn’t plan to never land, never thought we could drown”. The dynamic is emotionally potent and captivating.

If there is one critique to be made, at times the lyrics can feel in-cohesive, potentially an intentional direction to put emphasis on the emotional disarray of the track, but it inevitably comes across a little rushed. The production verges on being repetitive, but the track’s short runtime prevents it from outstaying its welcome - the tumultuous and confused lyricism paired with the seriously emotive vocals keep it consistently engaging throughout. If the borderline schizophrenic nature of this track is indicative of the direction the band is taking in their sophomore LP - I’m all in.