The Oh Hellos are technically a duo of Tyler and Maggie Heath. But live (and here) they play chamber pop with nine members in the band. They have an accordion, a violin, a banjo, guitars and great harmonies.
“Hello My Old Heart” starts with a quiet acoustic feel–slow and mellow. But it picks up after a verse and grows in intensity. The song has a few different parts that keep returning to the “ba dum ba, ba dum bah” melody. I love the way the song builds to a rousing (and abrupt) end. There’s so much going on in the song its hard to believe its only 4 minutes long.
The band members are all rather sick–they all have colds and there’s much talk of how bad they feel and how much they are coughing and sneezing (with a revolting/hilarious image of confetti).
“Like the Dawn” also opens with some lovely acoustic guitar. This time Maggie is on lead vocals and Tyler’s harmonies sound really good with her. Maggie’s lead soars (even while sick) and I love the way the song builds to a big folk rock explosion by the end.
Before the final song they joke about everyone being sick and how they are ready to be done with the tour. They start talking about laundry and underwear and get very silly. It’s pretty impressive the way Tyler can go from chastising them for being gross and then singing the first delicate falsetto note of “Exeunt” so perfectly. Its fun watching the band (especially the guitarist and violinist) really get into the big chords in the middle of the song (jumping up and down as they rock out. The song has an amazing ending as it builds and everybody sings “I have set my mind and my will” before all voices drop out and he gently sings, “I am leaving.”
It’s a pretty great ending although he notes that “The end of that one is a little more impressive with the full set up but you get the idea.”
The Oh Hellos are a great addition to the chamber pop world, and I look forward to hearing more from them.
[READ: June 16, 2016] Giant Days 2
What’s interesting but a little disappointing about his series is that continuity doesn’t seem to be a high priority between the stories. The characters never change their behavior, which is good, but it feels like these stories are episodic rather than continual, and yet there is certainly meant to be a building upon previous stories.
Except for Chapter 5 which picks up right after the previous book with the men and women shopping for formal attire for the Hall Ball. Esther convinces the women to buy secondhand dresses and then says that her brother can fix them–an excellent joke at the end of the page.
Meanwhile Ed and McGraw are trying on suits. Ed says he hopes that Esther will be into him someday and McGraw looks to the heavens and saying “The maintenance, Ed.”
The dance proves to be successful for some (well, Esther) until one of the men says that there’s a bet a the dance to see who can hook up with her. Well, that ends Esther’s fun.
And then some unexpected (or maybe not) pairings occur. Each person is a bit ashamed (at least in front of the others). And in classic “friend” scenario, Esther tells Ed that anyone who would not go out with him is an idiot.
And then everyone heads home for Christmas holidays.
Chapter six shows an emergency visit to Northampton and Susan’s home. We all know that Susan is prone to aggressive outbursts. Well that was true in her past as well. The girls show up to rescue Susan, but she doesn’t appear at the train stations. How will they find her? (There’s a very funny joke about all smokers knowing each other). I also love the continuity of the amusing joke that McGraw really loves keys.
The crux of this chapter is that some time ago, Susan greatly upset the daughter of the richest family in Northampton. And now that she is back, revenge is to be served. This chapter is very funny but mostly centered on its own plot rather than advancing the college story. As it ends, Esther realizes that exams are common up and she hasn’t been to a lecture since November.
Chapter Seven opens and things are…different. There is a new illustrator (Max Sarin) for the next two books and I have to say I really don’t like the new style. Even though Cogar still does the colors, everything in this book feels much brighter–in part it’s because Max’s lines are thinner, but also because almost everything he draws is softer and rounder. It take a lot of the edge off of the book and make s the whole thing a lot “cuter.” Which is disappointing.
The story is pretty solid though. Esther is freaking out about exams-she thought her exam about the New Testament would be really easy. To prepare for this exam she decides to go out dressed in whiteface to see Necrotising Swamp–a band that is satanic in a fun way. On the way out of the show, while protesters are trying to make her feel guilty for being there, she decides to go to “the source” and in a joke that I love, she decides to ask a priest for help in her theology class.
In an act of desperation, Esther finds one more person who might be able to help her…which turns into something more. At the same time Daisy discovers that Susan and McGraw have been “sexing.”
As Chapter 8 opens all of the couples are together. Susan and McGraw, Esther and her new guy and Ed and Daisy (although not as a couple). And this meeting is for Esther to introduce her new man to her friends. And conversely for him to introduce her to his friends (which could go better) and his parents (which could definitely go better–until she decides to really be herself).
When pressed she admits that she has a weakness for milquetoast handsome. And while their backs were turned, Daisy became addicted to Friday Night Lights. And while Ed has been trying to figure out how he could take his mind off of Esther and her new guy, he wound up joining the newspaper–what will that produce?