Taking Hayley is a name that will jog a few memories, a name that you’re probably familiar with, but can’t quite place. Hailing from Birmingham, UK they have supported the likes of Twenty Twenty and A Day Overdue, as well as having the videos for tracks ‘Circles’ and ‘Up All Night’ circulating the Scuzz and Kerrang playlists.
Having formed in 2010, ‘Tricks and Games’ is Taking Hayley’s debut full length album, and it starts promisingly with ‘The Big Blind’ – a slow, synth-ridden crescendo full of promise. Unfortunately, the following track opens with a less than average, clichéd pop-punk riff and vocals that match. So whilst Taking Hayley vocalist Alistair Keenan is obviously talented, ‘Better Luck Next Time’ is not the best representation of this and the track feels disjointed from the rest of the album’s material.
That said, strong points remain throughout the album. Most prominently the two promo singles ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Circles’ as well as the addictive ‘Tonight’ – which while repetitive will not fail to wedge itself in your brain. It is the sing-along quality and clear radio appeal that the band fails to provide consistently throughout the album, and as a result many of the songs are simply pop-punk forgettables and, unsettlingly for Taking Hayley, songs which other bands have written far better.
Perhaps Taking Hayley’s problem is the demographic they are trying to reach. The album is clearly focused on the post pop punk scene harnessed by the likes of Deaf Havana et all, but at times their music doesn’t accurately reflect this by lacking the grit and bravado of the UK’s many rising rock bands.
What is starkly clear is that Taking Hayley could be your little sister’s favourite new band. ‘From Now Until Forever’ proves the band can write ballads that will break a million teenage girls hearts, a ballad far superior to their contemporaries. It is this scatter gun approach and confusion of identity that makes Taking Hayley’s debut album a sub-par listen. Nonetheless it is an album that will probably garner a lot of fans, melody is pushed right to the front and young listeners are impressionable. Their constant touring and ambition is admirable, and with a little more focus on what kind of band they want to be, their sohpmore album may impress more, but as they say themesleves ‘better luck next time.’