In Christianity, there’s a phrase that gets circulated among scholars relating to the kingdom of God, which is known as the “already and not yet.” In layman’s terms it basically means that the kingdom of God is already here because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and rise from the grave, conquering death. Yet, the world is still broken and one day all will be made new. Hence, ‘already and not yet’.
half•alive have a Christian background, something I didn’t realize until a friend posted about “Creature,” referring to it as a “worship song.” Whether that was the band’s intent, I can’t say. However, there is a certain boldness in this song—notably in the outro. A band who achieved virality over the past year making a bold claim about faith is very gutsy and admirable—own what you believe! This song is also my favorite on the record, in part because it was produced by Paul Meany of Mutemath and twenty one pilots Trench fame (I know, I know—I’m such a fanboy).
The idea of “now, not yet” can apply to a lot of different things. Tension between success and goals. Present contentment and aspirations. We see this theme throughout the album.
The ubiquitous “Still Feel” is the song that most people probably know as the music video in that warehouse that shows up in everyone’s YouTube recommendations (seriously—how did they do that?). Looking a bit deeper, the song is an upbeat dance tune that is about being in the darkness and being pulled out of it on a routine basis. It isn’t supposed to be ironically upbeat like Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.”
This tension of “Now, Not Yet” is articulated again in the single “Runaway,” a bouncy song that trots along a neon path of pitter-patter drumming and atmospheric hooks. The chorus goes,
I hold my life out in front of me, dreams of who I wanna be I’m seeing every empty page But I find that everything I am is everything I should be Yeah, I don’t need to run away I don’t need to run away Yeah, I don’t need to run away
We often get so caught up in our aspirations that forget what we already have—what we’ve already achieved. Usually, the answer to our questions lies right in front of us, and it comes from looking in the mirror.
The musical style of half•alive is consistently light-hearted and experimental, ending up with a very polished production that invokes bright colors and quirky visuals. However, the vibe is down-to-earth and in that line between realism and dreams. Psychedelic it is not, although I would love to see them play a show with Django Django at some point.
I’m very curious to see how this album is expressed in a live setting. The band already set the bar high with a live performance of “Still Feel” on late night TV.
This record is infectious, and I feel many artists could learn a lot from the process in which half•alive rolled out their music. I’m very stoked to see what happens with them down the road.