The Harrow - The Harrow (self released cassette)
This is an interesting, intriguing release for two reasons. First, it's only available in hard form as a fucking cassette, for fuck's sake. Second, if a three-synth arsenal doesn't faze you, you're going to be seriously interested.
Because these lunatics seem to have figured that the early '80s moody pop had more going for it than cocktails, floppy fringes and awkward sex with women who called themselves Smanfa. So they've either combed the basements of pawn shops (or their own basements) for the things which passed for synthesisers in 1979, dragged them up and set about trying to find a niche.
Because they're aiming into a particular place 30 years ago, they're going to be compared to everyone from the Cocteau Twins to Dead Can Dance (If You Run 100, 000 Volts Through the Buggers Fairly Shortly Afterwards), so just assume I wrote those paragraphs of bilge and let's move on.
Speaking of love, the songs are all love songs. Of a sort. And rather well written. Vanessa Irena is the vocalist and she has a strong, yet wistful voice, almost soulful, which flows above the music and occasionally startled me by reminding me of (of all bands) Crime and the City Solution, which I assume must be me. Fasolino's superb, finger-picky guitar is pretty, moving, earthy in a way I've yet to hear a synth. They don't need (or have) huge rhythms or attacking waves of racket (just for a giggle, listen to the first Ultravox lp after they junked John Foxx, then listen to the third Ultravox LP - the one before they junked John Foxx and stand back in awe. I know which band I'd go and see) because they're going into a niche, a crevice of music-space-time which they dearly love.
So if you hear elements of Joy Division and that first New Order lp hiding in there, it's just a nod in a general direction. And it's rather lovely to see where else the Harrow are taking things. Other reviewers like Milk and Honey, the third song, I prefer the fourth and fifth, The River and Requiem. But all five are worth having on your ipod or whatever you use. They actually play live, they're not a bedroom or internet band; to make matters worse, these people have form, they've been in bands before.
1/2 for the music
for being so wonderfully out of step with everything else
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