Harlem | Hippies

Matador (2010)
By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  April 7, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


There’s a Flying V–shaped hole in my heart left by the death of Jay Reatard. Four years after the release of Blood Visions, his 2006 magnum opus, it’s still hard to determine whether any nü-garage act will be able to top its genius mixture of scorched-earth guitars and Stephin Merritt–worthy lyrics. I’m sorry to report that Harlem’s brilliantly titled second album is not that record. Free Drugs, their 2008 self-released debut, was incredibly promising. Its short, grizzly tracks delivered skeletal yet catchy hooks, aligning the band with Black Lips as speedy fraternity brothers-in-arms. Hippies, their first Matador release, recalls the Ponys after the departure of Ian Adams: too slow and a bit too sludgy. “Prairie My Heart” is the one great song — its abrupt switch from dirtball country to cheeky swing makes the heart soar. Whereas Matador labelmates Times New Viking elevate intentionally shitty recording to new, almost baroque heights, Harlem can seem forced, even a bit boring. When listening to Hippies, it’s difficult to forget that Harlem have professed their love for Nirvana, and still more difficult to suppress the urge to tell them to turn down that bass already.

Related: Kurt Vile | Childish Prodigy, Arty crashers, Message points, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Stephin Merritt, Jay Reatard, hippies,  More more >
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