Album Review: Harlem Shakes – Technicolor Health

They say bad things come in threes. Think back real quick. Any personal truth to that statement? If so, compare that to where you are now. The feeling of coming out the other end a stronger, wiser (maybe a little bit cynical) person is the exact mind frame to be in when listening to Brooklyn’s Harlem Shakes latest, Technicolor Health.

The world of indie rock has always been run by buzz bands– groups or soloists that manage to make a noticeable splash in an  already over crowded pool where the lifeguard’s just waiting to pull everybody out for the adult swim.

I would like to add the Harlem Shakes to a new list for the years “noteworthy” acts. They seem to be on the fast track to indie rock stardom, having already covered many of the appropriate steps to get you there; underappreciated debut EP, check. Loveable songs filled with harmonies and hooks, check. Appropriate amount of modern indie flavor mixed with the ghosts of music’s past, you can count that too. For better or worse, this band has it on lock down, and with a new full length ready to go, they’re already gathering quite the acclaim.

While it has been a few years since their Burning Birthdays EP, this latest material stylistically picks up right where they left off. Technicolor Health is one of those records that you have to take on face value to enjoy, to be overly critical would be to miss the point altogether. After being on the road and battling serious illness, they have come out the other side with their glass half full with an excellent record that reflects this new found optimism. Each track stresses leaving the negative behind, and it couldn’t have been said better than on “Strictly Game” when Lexy Benaim sings “This will be a better year. Make a little money, take a lot of shit, feel real bad and get over it.”

After so many tracks of bouncy rock, “Sunlight” comes in with the bands first full dance song complete with echoing new wave keys and guitars to compliment the thumping base and speedy cymbal work. The track is more romantic in theme, and you can’t help but picture it in a John Hughes movie. It also exhibits something else these guys can do well, and that is formulate an innovative break down, or in this specific case, an outro. It rarely happens, more so on the EP, but when it does it really adds to the performance.

Branching out a little further, “Natural Men” picks up a 60’s retro cum New Pornographers essence with backing “shananas” and a mesmerizing key section which really makes the track stand out. While keyboards had not been as featured back in 2006, they really adds a wealth of depth to the songs. The heavy beats come back once more for the closer, and title track, this time carrying a slight new wave feel. It is a quick end to an exciting and energetic album that is sure to turn some heads in the coming months.

Faith in life is always something hard to hold on to when it seems to cut you at the Achilles. To come out of a bad run a better person (or band in this case) is a testament to strength. If you happen to be in one of those bad stretches, take a lesson from this band, it will turn out all right in the end.

Check Out:
“Strictly Game”


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