Pulsating synth and hauntingly deep vocals are what culminate this new album from Boy Harsher. Careful, which comes out on 1st February via Nude Club Records, is minimalist in it’s form, yet perfect to underscore a science fiction film or an afternoon at the gym, with its repetitive rhythms and up-tempo pace.
Experimental from the offset, Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller started to experiment with sound, video and text in the winter of 2014, which was the advent of Boy Harsher. Born out of this tumultuous relationship in swampy Georgia, their first EP Lesser Man is sexy as it is sulking, but lamented that morose pop sound. In their second release, LP Yr Body is Nothing Matthews and Muller took that darkness and turned into in a full length record. There is much speculation on their relationship and whether they continue to make music together, as it is one steeped in chaos and potential destruction. Matthews had “careful” tattooed across her back whilst Muller fried the speakers.
At that time “Careful” was meant as a warning: the cautionary understanding of love. The duo felt as though they were disappearing within one another. But, if Boy Harsher’s first two releases documented the pain that follows after things don’t go as planned, then this LP, Careful, focuses on the upsides of love as well as the vulnerability and fear it can inflict.
Careful was primarily written at home in Massachusetts, with just a handful of synthesizers and a laptop. For Muller a minimal set up is mandatory for productivity in the process. The album was mixed in Italy with Maurizio Baggio of La Distilleria Studio who played a large part in finalising the sound.
Matthews vocals are reminiscent of the strength of Grace Jones, haunting, self-assured and with a lacing of experience. The lyrics, like the electronics are also minimalist but provide the narrative for the album, as the music is not effectively indicative of feeling, and sentiment. Often I feel thrown back to my youth, Lost for example, has a head nod to the Pet Shop Boys. Careful is also one to note as it’s the only track that carries Muller’s vocals, as this thread, careful, running through this album is iterated in around a minute with minimal music underscoring his words.
An interesting album, I will no doubt refer back to, as there is much to seek out with Boy Harsher’s most recent offering. Hauntingly morose, there is a sad element to this record, which is balanced by the synth, a complex record.