The Leeds-based four-piece have hit the scene with their keenly awaited debut album. Honing a sound that oozes with exuberance, ‘Hopefuls’ is a strikingly stylish body of work, baring enough volatility to keep you thoroughly engaged whilst personally expressing the unstable nature of life and its contents.
Formed in the most unlikely of places, the construction of the album started during a brief soundcheck interval. As the band awaited their slot, they decided to do an impromptu rehearsal in a corner of the empty theatre, using an un-amplified guitar and bass to compose the melody of what would go on to be the albums lead single Cafe Disco. From there, duo Daniel Parker-Smith (guitar,vocals) and Ben Schrodel (bass, vocals) went to work writing the rest of the album, leaving Jess Womack (keyboard) and Ryan Bailey (drums) to sprinkle their customary magic dust on top.
Dan showed me a riff he had and I played along. I remember going from the root E up to the F# – the movement you hear when the band all come in on the recording and we were both like – ‘that’s it!The Harriets
Opening to the thematically charming Trip to the Moon, we’re immediately taken on a journey into early 1900’s vintage cinema, with the song itself taking its title from the 1902 Méliès film. Balancing a compound of rustic tones and more contemporary elements, the introduction of strings induce a wave of classical textures, rounding the single off in graceful fashion. Giving the album a whole new persona, the following track ‘Darlin‘ pays homage to true indie-pop, dressed unapologetically and dancing lavishly around your ears in an energetic frenzy. Delving deeper into the archives, ‘Have Fun In Your Workplace’ slots into third position, harbouring a strangely creative instrumental secret. Starting out as an experimental/lo-fi demo from the bands Soundcloud in 2012, the songs soundscape highlights their versatility and imagination, using the thumping of a book and the shaking of rice tin to translate a crisp and transparent narrative through simple percussion.
Beginning in slow, ballad-like fashion, ‘Rules for Travelling‘ draws comparisons to an early Steely Dan, harmonising an evolving structure of melody, tempo and rhythm. Based on the notion of leaving things behind, the lyrics take on a cynical tone whilst maintaining an equal level of pathos. Within nine sonically cohesive tracks, the band have managed to summarise every human emotion in absolute clarity, most significantly in ‘Johnny‘ which details a story about growing up and moving to the city, all the while yearning for a simpler life.
As moments of fragile sweetness blend into heavier passages, we’re guided into the more personal realms of the groups artistry in the acoustically intimate ‘The Boy You Knew‘. Served as the hushed and tranquil finisher, the mood shifts effortlessly off the back of the penultimate arena-piece ‘Fall Out of Grace‘, a Tom-Petty-inspired rock anthem that combines sections of a long poem written by Parker-Smith.
Akin to the origin of the album title, The Harriets have delivered an impressive portfolio of new material that lays down a strong statement of intent from a band that keep getting better and better: watch this space very carefully.