The Hague     

Black Rabbit
Self-released
2012

Beautiful and fragile, and oh so emotional, that's what I am confronted with when I hear the music on the new album from Portland's The Hague.  The opening instrumental An Open Book Conversationalist is a sunny day dance of alternative rock that is soft in all the right places.  Everyone In This Town leans in with a poppy beat, strings that yearn and vocals that are earnest.  It is delightful and touching, like a pleading ode to deliciously unrequited love.  The guitar work reminds me of Farside at their softest.  I hear shades of Lemonheads sprinkled throughout this album but at times it is more evident than at others, such as the chorus of I'm Sorry, I Thought This Was A City.  The clean guitar passages add hints of Gameface when they are being nostalgic.  I know I keep throwing references to pop-punk bands in this review when this band is much closer to The Lemonheads, but the lovelorn sensibilities of pop-punk bands keep surfacing in The Hague's music.  There is a folk quality to the chorus of the beautifully sensitive Hourglass.  A lingering kiss of Sleater Kinney paints itself across the plodding bass lines and vocal pacing of the early portion of the song.  Ominous strings are a harbinger to the coming sorrow of His Talk, Her Teeth.  I hear the sparseness of early Depeche Mode, but with more organic instrumentation on the song.  Black Rabbit is a thing of fragile beauty.  It remains more quiet and subdued than it probably needs to be, but that makes the emotional desperation so much more potent I think.  If you like soft alternative rock that genuinely yearns then The Hague will certainly tug at your heartstrings.