Indie/alternative band HOAX – Michael Raj and Frantz Cesar – introduces their narrative-driven debut concept album, b?, describing the inner workings of BEING vs. DOING.
Michael Raj explains, “Behind all the facades we put up, under all the masks we wear – there we are: Ourselves in Being form. It used to be very hard for me to explain what it meant ‘to be’ to other people. And believe me – I know I am not original in this line of questioning. For God’s sake, we all know what Shakespeare said through Hamlet, but as the album developed, it became clear to me that ‘being’ is synonymous with ‘peace’. And that peace looks different in everyone’s mirror. It starts with self-reflection, and never ends with anything other than life devotion to your truest form. I’ve said it so many times throughout our career, but if there is anything you take away from listening to HOAX and this album, it’s to please prioritize your peace. We are only here for a moment in the blip of infinity, and during that blink, our peace and being will always be under the scrutiny of the randomness and chaos of life. Perfect the art of sitting still, to know yourself, show and embody empathy, and be authentic to your peace.”
Based in Houston, Texas, HOAX describes their sound as “empathy pop,” a sound merging elements of ‘60s pop, ‘70s Motown, and alternative R&B. with lyricism centering on the human condition, explorations of social constructs, and the decisions people make.
Encompassing 17-tracks, b? begins with “Trees,” opening on shimmering tones flowing into a sparkling piano-driven tune topped by dreamy, evocative vocals.
Highlights on the album include the jangly-colored “Could,” dripping with hints of alternative flavors. A bright, luscious falsetto imbues the lyrics with lustrous timbres, while tight finessed percussion provides a potent rhythm.
A personal favorite, “Formulate” features delicious vocals atop a pushing-lite rhythm as gleaming washes of coloration glide overhead. The feel and flow of the melody are alluringly addictive. Whereas the creamy R&B undulation of “Beach House ii” infuses the tune with smoldering, voluptuous waves of harmonics.
The title track blends new wave and pop savors into a buoyantly thrumming tune full of vibrant layers of glittering tones. “unconditional,” with its glossy leitmotifs and tasty vocals hits the sweet spot, delivering rich, lush harmonics.
The penultimate track, “Western Medicine,” slides along on smooth, radiant textures as breathy vocals imbue the lyrics with sultry passion.
HOAX has it going on! b? pumps out scrumptious washes of alt-pop, tints of new wave, and R&B, all crowned by persuasive vocals.