Swindon based three piece The Harlers come out swinging with their debut EP; bluesy, filled with soul and packing a heart of gold.
Kicking off the 5 track EP is the thumping ‘Searching’. A raw track that feels like the UK’s answer to Queens of the Stone Age, heavy beating drums and crashing cymbals carry this track through. Whilst listening to the slightly distorted guitars crash and hum away is an absolute joy for the ears, particularly through solos breaking up the opening verses and chorus from the outro. The vocals accompanying all of this are powerful and never feel drowned out by the music, filled with attitude and bringing to mind a mix of Kasabian and Sea Sick Steve.
The title track ‘Morning Light’ follows up with a similar sound. The guitars continuing on with heavy riffs and quieter moments to bridge verses. With this track the drums keep a more upbeat tempo, acting as more of a jackhammer that a slow beat to keep the track going. I certainly appreciate the faster beat and heightened aggression on this track, though similar it almost breaks out on its own. The end of Morning Light seems to allude to something that never really comes. Though an ethereal echoing is followed by a brief last hurrah, it just seems to trail off into nothing. By the end of Morning Light I found myself a little fatigued by the raw, deep guitars and wailing vocals. After a full 8 minutes of mostly the same affair I was ready for something to depart from this.
Broke Man happily obliges my want for something a little different. A tighter track than its predecessors, Broke Man runs where Searching and Morning Light walked. Still sticking with The Harlers style of thrashing away at guitars and oozing with a country flavour. Taking the usual breaks to hit you with guitar and drum solos. Though only clocking in at 2:52 it felt like a breath of fresh air, something with a little more bounce to it, that you can dance to.
The penultimate track of the album, Your Love kicks right back into it what has now become par for the course by this point, with some added effects to individualise it. After a slightly extended intro its business as usual, the heavy and raw guitar sound that have dominated the EP so far take centre stage again. This time most of the song feels like an extended guitar solo, whilst a bit of a song describing how, “I don’t need your love” takes place in the middle. Like Morning Light, Your Love also just seems to end, though this time the end is rather sharp and abrupt, I felt like another chorus was coming, but no. On it’s own I found myself enjoying Your Love with it’s layout of being instrumental for the most part. But when sandwiched in the with the other tracks it fails to stand out.
Closing out the EP is the thing I thought that was sorely missing, a quieter track that showed some weakness. The Harlers certainly delivered with this sweet and minimalist closer. Promise You reins in the noise, keeping the guitar work simple, the bass to a simple strum, and the drums to little more than a series of light taps. Whereas the vocals show some wonderful work, delicate and innocent. The song brings to mind an image of a working man trying to find a place in the world for him and his loved ones. The best way I can describe it is a ‘Working class ballad’, and it is an absolute joy to listen to. Running over 6 minutes and fading into a few seconds of silence, I can’t think of a better way to close out the EP.
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Overall, The Harlers give us a blue, working man’s rock and roll soundtrack, filled with so much heart and a lot of thought. Though some of the heavier aspects did begin to wear a little thin in some of the tracks, there is more good here than bad. Honestly I feel as though the title track maybe the weakest of the lot, with Searching and Promise You being both the bookends and strongest tracks here.
I certainly enjoyed what The Harlers offered up with their first EP and hope to hear more from them in the future. Though some of it may be repetitive, it’s a long time since I heard something with this kind of sound. Certainly a band to keep an eye out for in the future if you like your Alt Rock, Folk, or Blues.