Let’s face it: everything is a pain in the arse at the moment. You’re working from home and trying to look after your kids at the same time, or you’re out of work and stuck in the house. You just want to be able to go to the supermarket without having to kit out like you’re in a graphic novel. It’s hard to have an opinion on literally anything, let alone something new. But look, here. Just whack the Jade Hairpins album on. It’ll be fine. You don’t even have to think about it. If you’re looking for something that’s not too emotionally taxing, Harmony Avenue is here for you.
Written and recorded in real time, Harmony Avenue is imbued with a sense of play. Before announcing the record Jade Hairpins cultivated an air of mystery, and now they work to maintain the impression that they’ve simply stumbled upon it all like musical scavengers. This approach doesn’t always work, but at times like these it can be a welcome reprieve. There are jaunty guitar riffs seemingly borrowed from Vampire Weekend, as on opener ‘J Terrapin’ (which, yes, possibly involves someone turning into a reptile) and ‘Dolly Dream’, and squelching, acid house synths and warped vocals on ‘(Don’t Break My) Devotion’. This last is one of the album’s high points, rhythmic and spiralling.
Harmony Avenue was inspired by post-punk and new wave acts like New Order and Ian Dury, but the end result is musically much lighter than that would suggest. The floating nostalgia of ‘Yesterdang’ and the shifting ‘Truth Like A Mirage’ belie broader lyrical themes of regret, contradiction and self-image. But Harmony Avenue is far from heavy going. It is playful and spontaneous, two things that there seems to be a shortage of at the moment. A welcome break.
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