Truth be told, it’s hard to talk about the Australian indie music scene without mentioning that we’ve hit saturation point. It’s peak hipster out there – messy drums, deconstructed rock vocals, pop stylings, clean(ish) guitar played with the ferocity of something more conventionally overdriven. It takes but a quick scroll through Google or Facebook to find the next local Newtown (Sydney), Brunswick Street (Melbourne) or Hindley Street (Adelaide) gig. Headlined of course by the hottest unkempt bright young things with a penchant for making loud noise.
One could make the argument that Harmony, a six-piece Melbourne group, tick all the aforementioned boxes and thus sit ridgedly in the ‘yet another hipster rock outfit’ category. Still, by the time the face-blistering solo in the middle of ‘I Love You’ – the opening track of their third album ‘Double Negative’ – kicked in, I was well and truly hooked. Harnessing a distinct, oftentimes disordered sound, the best I could describe Harmony’s output is probably “Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds by way of The Smith Street Band, with a liberal dashing of The Smiths thrown in for good measure”.
Songs like ‘Two Sides of My Heart’ and ‘Love Is A Chemical High’ are where Harmony really shine, kicking out the poppy, rocky jams with genuine passion and enjoyment you can hear through your earbuds. ‘Double Negative’ (the title song and one of the album’s only female vocal dominant tracks) brings us into blissfully dirgey territory (“oh I think I love you but I must be really high…”). It is worth pointing out that it feels like the album runs out of steam a little bit towards the middle before it picks up again, rounding off effectively with two wonderfully experimental tracks – the slow jam ‘Private Life’ and the bass-heavy ‘It Hurts’.
A lot of what makes ‘Double Negative’ (and indeed the band itself) truly enjoyable is Harmony’s confidence in mixing an at-times almost atonal lead male vocalist with the smoother, captivating backup of the band’s remaining female cast. Combine these often angelic ensemble harmonies and gospel sensibilities with the rawness of a folksie garage band and you’ve got one hell of an enjoyable, defiantly Australian EP.
Review – Jez Bridie