Ha The Unclear: A Kingdom in a Cul-de-sac (Think Zik!/digital outlets)

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Fish
Ha The Unclear: A Kingdom in a Cul-de-sac (Think Zik!/digital outlets)

For a band with a surreal name, this indie.rock outfit from Dunedin (the vehicle for songwriter-singer Michael Cathro MSc), have appeared a few times at Elsewhere in the past decade, including with a video compilation.

This latest release on the boutique French label Think Zik! is a kind of compilation-cum-new album which opens with a couple of their early and catchy singles (Growing Mould, Secret Lives of Furniture) and more recent material from their dress-up box of pop (the lovely Alchemy about unrealised expectation with early Beach Boys harmonies, the timeless Strangers beloved at alt.radio).

The French connection comes through in their cover of Les Rita Mitsouko's 1986 New Wave pop hit C'est comme ├ža/It Is What It Is (say it with a Gallic shrug of indifference).

Ha the Unclear are classy, clever and ironic with Cathro sometimes delivering in archetypal Kiwi vowels (Wallace Line).

But there are plenty of songs here – such as Paperboats, the Feelies-like pop of Fish, the existential ache of the ballad Mind And Matter – which confirm that behind the handmade look and feel of Ha the Unclear there's a keen intelligence at work.

The French no doubt discovered that Ha has a fair bit of what we call "je ne sais quoi".

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You can hear this album at Spotify here

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