As young Philadelphia bands go, Hail Social has managed a surprising amount of success. With only a seven-inch under its belt, the band snagged a recent opening slot for Interpol and the Secret Machines on the Antics tour, and last year’s self-titled debut only upped the ante. As post-punk revivalists go, Hail Social has neither the wiry pop sensibility of a Franz Ferdinand or the cunning musicianship of a Bloc Party. The quartet’s real calling card is its members’ love of pure nostalgia. Whereas many of their peers struggle to re-invent post-punk using its traditional building blocks — angular guitars, assertive bass, grip-tight percussion — Hail Social is content to nail the ’80s sound as an end to itself. From its stenciled goth cover design to the Duran Duran handclaps on “Get In the Car,” their debut sounds precisely like some make-out tape keeping the couples company after their Reagan-era prom.
The “Warning Sign” seven-inch changes little. In fact, these two tracks only delve further into that compressed, pastel-colored sound. But that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. Although singer and guitarist Dayve Hawk’s lyrical material remains much the same — profoundly self-obsessed, vaguely morbid, entirely familiar tales of relationships on the brink — his voice now feels more melodic, more confident than ever. As the band’s primary songwriter, Hawk has also added tension and depth to his tunes. “Warning Sign” builds around a simple synth arpeggio to a cascade of distended, chorus-tinged guitar lines. The B-side and lesser of the two tunes, “Objects in Mirror,” still manages to distill a wealth of ideas into four solid minutes of neurosis.
Of course, the big question remains: What does a band so focused on recreating a distinct sound do for a follow-up? Fortunately for these guys, a seven-inch doesn’t pretend to answer those questions; it just keeps us interested.