The name grandma seems at first unbefitting of 25-year old biological male Liam Hall, yet his sophomore EP Angelhood gives us a few hints as to his unexpectedly pleasant grandmaternal ways. His lyricism is defined by cryptic aphorisms and somewhat deranged storytelling. Inquiries into spirituality and digital life are woven throughout, like whispers of an existential
crisis accelerated by the relentlessness of time. In the project’s visuals, Hall is often the sole occupant of suburban dreamscapes, navigating the double-edged comfort and malaise brought on by the isolation of the sprawl. Maybe old age is a second childhood, and vice versa— our dear grandma brings together youthful ennui with an esoteric anxiety about the beyond. Despite playing the burnout outsider in his videos, Hall is somewhat of a prolific music insider whose track record includes collaborations across a variety of genres. Highlights include an alluring R&B track with sugar trap star Rico Nasty as well as recent and upcoming production/writing credits for artists such as WILLOW, ericdoa, SoFaygo, YUNGBLUD, and JID. His story is that of a young songwriter entrenched in the rock tradition who became captivated
by the infinite possibilities of the digital audio workstation and whisked away into the heart of the internet. Also central to his narrative is Hall’s hometown of Atlanta, a city all but synonymous with the history of American music. Atlanta’s home-grown genres like country, alternative rock, and trap all find a place in Angelhood’s sonic lexicon. While maintaining his penchant for skillful instrumentation, it seems Hall has escaped the irresistible call of nostalgia that defined his last project, the funk-infused Even If We Don’t Get It Together (2019), and instead embraced the uncertainty of the future with vulnerability and sincerity. What remains constant throughout his oeuvre is the balance between experimental stylings and shimmering alt-pop perfection. Collaborators like Nate Donmoyer (Passion Pit, Gesaffelstein) and Chris Greatti (Poppy, Grimes, Yves Tumor) add to Angelhood’s versatile production. Celestial harp arpeggios float through the metallic and percussive “I Bleed.” “soft-glow” explodes with libidinal energy in a psychedelic breakdown. “Mission Statements” transitions from slippery country-blues croonery into glitchy staccato cloud rap, as if suddenly infected by a genre-bending computer virus.  One of the EP’s most poignant songs is “Blue Atlanta,” a love letter to the city and its expansive outskirts. Hall’s beguiling falsetto hovers above elegantly layered synths, like the aural equivalent of a crepuscular haze over a parking lot. The song gives voice to the generation of young adults forcibly re-confined to their childhood origins and desperately seeking romanticization strategies. Its video provides a few options: internet binges, aimless drives, gas station loitering, urban exploration, retreats into the fringes of nature, introspection into ungodly hours. The nonlinear nature of love in the digital age—failed talking stages, psychosexual pining, miscommunication and vibe shifts—permeates the album with a dark romanticism. Intertwined with this is a fascinating strain of theism, most present in “God Hired You To Be My Baby” and “I Met God Online,” an enigmatic story with a chronically online narrator at its center. In opposition to its esoteric content, the song’s wholesome music video, co-directed by Skylar Newman of the brand Praying, is populated with remarkably “normal” people fresh out of a stock image catalog. Hall’s Southern charm lends a choirboy sweetness to the project’s underlying melancholia. Combining the affect of an epicene 1970s rock star with that of a public school e-boy, he electrifies the decentralized and liminal spaces of the Internet and the suburbs with a phantasmagoric exuberance. It’s the perfect soundtrack for flanerie, cyberstalking, photo
manipulation, sowing discord on Discord, and manifestation. Angelhood captures the furtiveness of coming of age, the ever-enchanting American dream, and the transformative effects of Internet use.

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