Photo: Nedda Afsari
Coming home one night from a Drab Majesty show here in Los Angeles, I found myself down a research vortex of internet neo-goth, new wave bands. One of the most promising groups I heard that night was the entrancing duo Boy Harsher. I will admit I was a bit late to the bandwagon, but upon hearing the Country Girl EP, I knew I’d be a fan for a really long time. The real test for my longevity as a fan would be dependent on their ability to remain consistent, and I think this LP carried that same weight in the eyes of many critics and fans. Thankfully (arguably expectedly), the two delivered. Careful is without a doubt the most developed project the group has released so far, and is a dramatic, fluid 43 minutes of music that lives somewhere between industrial dance and records that vampires would work out to.
The LP isn’t very experimental in structure, nor does it deviate much from their previous music, but honestly, I think that might be my favorite part about it. The duo employs a pretty distinct set of tools across all of their records: huge techno drums, arpeggiated melodies, and basslines that tend to move in short entrancing circles, and droning, washed out vocals that whisper profound messages of loss, pain, love, and more. The real triumph of Careful was their success in demonstrating their growth as producers and as songwriters, and their obvious trust in their sound and direction. What started as an experimental group reading poetry over soundscapes is now a fully developed musical duo writing really accessible and one-of-a-kind records that feel like records.
The LP starts with “Keep Driving,” a mysterious, textured soundscape that gives us a really great idea of what’s to come in terms of color and vibe, and quickly drops into “Face The Fire,” “Face,” and “LA,” three tracks that provoke the body to move. Breaks and four-on-the-floor drum patterns rush over lethargic, almost atonal melody lines. Finally we get to “Come Closer,” which, if the first four tracks felt like riding on a speedboat in Miami at four in the morning, feels like hitting top speed and seeing the sun rise over the horizon of the ocean. Finally, you dock and walk off the boat to the calmer “The Look They Gave You,” and enjoy the adrenaline come down through “Tears,” the first emotional and nostalgically uplifting record (and my personal favorite off the album). All in all, this record is alarmingly danceable, nostalgically forward-thinking, and just so much fucking fun. Give it a listen, don’t sleep on Boy Harsher — there’s a reason we chose them for “Who To Watch” in 2o19.