Hello Debris

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Hello Debris came out 13 years after Hail's previous record, 1993's Kirk. The group is too low-profile for this to be considered a comeback effort. And its members, Susanne Lewis and Bob Drake, are too involved in several other projects for this album to be motivated by money. What's left then? What can justify reactivating a project after a decade-long hiatus? The songs, that's what. In the end, Hello Debris is by far Hail's best record yet: lighter, funnier, and more elaborate than either Turn of the Screw or Kirk. Lewis' lyrics are marvelously awkward and her melodies catchy. Drake's arrangements and production are downright mad, perfectly in tune with his own solo albums. The short durations also point toward his solo direction. Indeed, Hello Debris delivers 18 tracks in under 40 minutes. Each piece introduces a stylistic shift, and most of them end on a musical punch line. From rockabilly and surf to doom rock and grunge, Hail use every style they can get a hold of and transmogrify them into Hail Rock. What this album comes down to, though, is art rock, as in rock music lovingly labored over to make it larger than rock. Hello Debris is more experimental than its predecessors, with a heavier serving of Drake's unique brand of avant-prog, but it remains more song-based and rock & roll than his or Lewis' other projects; slightly trashier too. Highlights include the lighthearted "Celestial Heartbeat" and the proggier "New Skyline," but there is not a single throwaway track on the album.

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