More and more, it feels like New Zealand is kicking up some supremely good vibes. We’ve just come across Ha the Unclear and their newest track Wallace Line, released just over a week ago. And damn, it’s a ray of sunshine.
Following in the footsteps of Two Door Cinema Club or Last Dinosaurs, Ha the Unclear utilise the conventions of indie rock to transmit a good dose of thinly disguised angst. It’s the kind of music that makes you listen twice; once for that head bop, once more for a double shot of their brilliant lyrics.
Ha the Unclear remain clean as a whistle on Wallace Line, a bouncy ballad for the immovable objects in all of our lives.
The single’s title refers to the Wallace Line, an actual biological boundary that exists between Australia and the major bodies of Southeast Asia. It separates the fauna commonly associated with Asia from marsupials and monotremes found in Australia and surrounds.
Aaaand biology lesson over. Whether Ha the Unclear are possums wishing they were tigers or they feel bound by the far-flung geography of New Zealand, this is a song for outsiders. It holds a dialogue between singer and listener, the band lamenting their inability to change and perhaps their comfort in that state.
It’s a brilliant metaphor, and one that carries through the whole tune effortlessly. It belies a lyrical maturity that hooked me instantly, one which led me on a very happy path down their debut album Bacterium, Look At Your Mother Go, which was equally ripe with sassy hooks and whimsical stories.
Currently Ha the Unclear is Michael Cathro on guitar and vocals, Ben Sargeant on drums, Theo Francis on guitar and Paul Cathro on bass. They’re from Dunedin but based in Auckland, and Wallace Line follows their late-2017 single Big City. Before that, it had been a good stint since their album in 2014 (one they spent supporting The Dandy Warhols and The Shins).
Let’s hope the two newbies are heralding a bigger release down the line for Ha the Unclear. Until then, catch them on tour this month if you’re around NZ:
Wallace Line Tour
Fri 6 April – Space Academy, Christchurch
Sat 7 April – The Cook, Dunedin
Fri 13 April – Whammy, Auckland
Sat 14 April – Caroline, Wellington
Tickets available here.