Alright, so I was sent a sweet slab of vinyl: Black Rabbit by The Hague. My first impression of this band came with the song “Everyone”, which is somewhat reminiscent of early stuff by one of my favorite bands, Seattle’s sloppy pop band BOAT (minus the slop). Then there’s the angular guitars that hint of an early Minus the Bear. In its truest form, The Hague can be classified as a pop-rock band, but they add a surprising layer of strings throughout Black Rabbit that gives it a unique edge that goes well beyond the oversought dual-genre.
Take opener “An Open Book Conversationalist” and “Passing Cars” — both are true instrumentals with the melody dominated by strings. And when vocals are added, such as in the aforementioned “Everyone” and “Valkyrie”, they tend to hold a slightly more emotive edge. But I wouldn’t slap Black Rabbit with the dreaded emo label, as there’s more substance here than modern emo would warrant. No, on Black Rabbit, The Hague presents nine very different, very melodic tunes that split two somewhat opposing styles yet work quite well in conjunction.
As common with any labeled true pop-rock, you won’t find anything groundbreaking here. The Hague hasn’t set out to challenge our concept of what defines music, complicate or blur the boundaries of varying sub-sub-genres, or blow our minds by throwing in seemingly unthought-of ideas. What they’ve done instead is channeled their passion in an energetic way that simply makes you feel good.
However, give the post-rock-leaning closer “His Talk; Her Teeth” a listen and it may contradict everything I’ve said before about The Hague.