For anyone who is unaware, Dark Wave/Synthpop is back in a big way. Bands such as Cold Cave, TR/ST, ADULT, and the Soft Moon; just to name a few, have reclaimed the goth dance floor aesthetic making those of us with just a little (or a lot) of “Dark Side” increasingly happy to have something to pair with our Nitzer Ebb and Clan of Xymox records.
One of these harbingers of neo-dark dance is Boy Harsher; who hail from Northhampton, Massachusetts. The band’s official bio reads that they are
“A Dark Electronic Duo…(using) gritty dance beats infused with ethereal vocals…between industrial, drone, and confessional storytelling.”
Early reviews stated them as “highly danceable narratives of desire and nuanced discomfort”. This description is absolutely spot on. I don’t think I could have captured it any better.
In their prior full length release “YR Body is Nothing”; Boy Harsher created a driving, yet stripped down musical landscape, evoking an uneasy neurotic headspace with existential sexual crisis based lyrics paired with beats that your body can’t help but dance to. It causes the listener an uneasy reaction of pleasure met with discomfort. The single release, “Pain” showed the strengths of the band captured in a single track. Let me tip my hat to another well known band who captures this feeling by saying Boy Harsher do indeed capture the “pain” that we have not only become used to, but now fully seek out and can’t get enough of.
With “Careful” Boy Harsher still captures that overall feeling, but channels it much more masterfully; moving from evoking the spirit of the short early films of David Lynch or the Brother’s Quay, to a full blown cinematic narrative piece that is crafted with more poise and attention to the details then earlier offerings. The stand out, single type tracks are everything that we have come to expect from the duo; and the use of pared down instrumental/vocal tracks assist the rest of the album to continue to drive the story and tension. I am absolutely an album person, who wants to listen to a release as a whole, and this completes the journey masterfully. I might just need to fire up my streaming services later and let either “Blue Velvet” or “Lost Highway” play muted along with this album.
It’s only February but this album already has markings of ending up on “Best of 2019” lists, including my own. Highly anticipated, with expected pay off; this album will not disappoint anyone with a shred of goth sensibility.