illusion hills, han.irl & Ryan Hall – bittersweet

After months of TikTok teasing, genre-bending band Illusion Hills finally released their best song to date. “bittersweet” features han.irl & and Ryan Hall and reveals yet another side of the malleable eight-piece group from Orange County.

I’ll be honest—the first two singles of 2022 weren’t quite my cup of tea genre-wise, but I’ll never fault a group that consists of recent high school graduates for trying out new sounds. “genesis,” featuring Buppy., made large use of distorted vocals throughout, with trippy production giving way to the most stripped-down acoustic guitar outro you could imagine. “chasm” with aldrch saw the group blend traditional hyperpop elements and heavy guitars.

But back to “bittersweet.” Illusion Hills hit the nail on the head with the snippet they used to tease the track. A drum fill bridges the first verse into the crooning hook beautifully, not to mention the catchy BROCKHAMPTONish refrain of “I-I-I just wanna know, what’s been keeping you from sleeping,” which has been in my head for months. han & Ryan don’t miss a beat on their verses, either.

Illusion Hills is smart to keep experimenting and staying open to new collaborators as the solidify their identity. But “bittersweet” is so good that I wouldn’t mind if they went on a bit of a Jersey Boys boyband kick for a while.

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