Just because it looks spooky doesn’t mean it is spooky. That’s the premise of today’s 3 of the Week, right in time for Halloween. This week’s selections may have “Halloween” in their name, and metaphorically refer to the holiday, but they’re not necessarily the types of songs you’d listen to hype you up for horrors and haunts. For that, you’re better of gravitating toward the eerie soundtracks of John Carpenter, the apocalyptic thematics of The Devil Wears Prada’s Zombie EP, or the Misfits’ creepy, caked-in-makeup punk. But if you’re looking for a different vibe than the traditional slashers, zombies, and aliens in your October 31 soundtrack, give these three figurative (not literal) Halloween songs a listen.
“Halloween” – Hunny
Hunny released an under-the-radar alternative rock album earlier this year, showing tons of promise despite it having just an eight-track, 21-minute runtime. Blending a modern pop punk and emo template with scraps of ‘80s new wave and The Cure, the rockers found a way to appeal to moody romantics across multiple musical generations. It also helps that they had Grammy winner Carlos De La Garza (Cherry Glazerr, Culture Abuse) on board to make a coarse base more palatable.
The final track on the record is titled “Halloween,” acting more as an allegory for the holiday than prescribing painted faces and visits to haunted houses.
“I just remembered it’s Halloween / So I guess I’m going as a guy who’s paying parking tickets,” vocalist Jason Yarger says on the song.
It’s a metaphor that references the monotony we can all relate to, pitting mundane everyday tasks against the fun of dressing up and truly taking the world by storm — as Halloween empowers us to do.
“Forever Halloween” – The Maine
The Maine truly got into character on their 2013 full-length, Forever Halloween, not only titling a song after the holiday, but making it the collective idea driving the album. Even the cover art shows a man in a skeleton costume. It’s as blatantly Halloween as you can get, and yet, the five-minute-plus titular track closes the record with somber, less-than-creepy acoustics. Things do heighten to keyboard-laden slow rock, but again, its dress-ups are figurative in referring to “little monsters” and “ghosts and goblins.”
Forever Halloween was the album where we saw The Maine fully outgrow their youthful pop punk beginnings and dig their claws into adult rock and roll. But even if singer Jonathan O’Callaghan says “I’ll still be 18,” Halloween make-believe turns into a forward-moving moment for the band. “Forever Halloween” finds them on a precipice, looking out over an entire world that’s in front of them and saying “you can be anything / anything in the world.”
“New Halloween” – Touché Amoré
“New Halloween” has by far the least Halloween connotations of the three songs in this list. In fact, the only clear relation Touché Amoré’s Jeremy Bolm gives to October 31 is in the track name. What is very clear is that the track is about the loss of his mother — the entire album, Stage Four, is. Throughout it, Bolm reflects on her fight with cancer and the grief that has come afterward, and no song is as reflective as the album’s second cut.
Guitars glide and cymbals crash, then Bolm cuts in (“Somehow it’s already been a year,” the front man cries out as he lets time and anguish overcome the crushing melodic hardcore instrumentals). Perhaps the concept of “new Halloween” refers to how holidays are different (or “new”) without your mother around, as family has long been a part of the traditions we dearly look forward to. It could also be Halloween’s association with darkness and death, and Bolm redefining October 31 as more biographical than ever as he vividly recounts hospital visits.