Release Date: Feb 1, 2019
Record label: Nude Club
At their grungiest and most claustrophobic, dance duo Boy Harsher hang in similar shadows to Factory Floor and Chris Carter; at their most unguarded and upbeat, they're letting their hair down in San Junipero Boy Harsher's first album, 2016's 'Yr Body Is Nothing', was a mildly terrifying grindhouse disco that mixed throbbing, brooding bass lines with muggy, claustrophobic beats and nihilistic, deadpan vocal delivery ("What can I give you? What do you want from me?" singer Jae Matthews intoned blankly on the title track). This new record is, in contrast, surprisingly loved-up. To be clear: the duo, consisting of Matthews and partner August Miller, have not started to turn in acoustic ditties about rainbows and butterflies.
From Escape From New York to Drive to Knight Rider, dark synth music is the de facto soundtrack to the tense, late-night driving scene. The Massachusetts synth pop duo Boy Harsher, who have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity over the past couple years, dig into this theme on their new album, Careful. The duo of Gus Miller and Jae Matthews, who reference Lost Highway's creepy driving scenes as an influence, craft ten songs about abandonment and escapism on Careful.
A few weeks ago, at a bar in Brooklyn known for its metal and goth affiliations, a DJ in the back room was running through a playlist thick with synths. The old standbys--Bauhaus, Joy Division, Soft Cell, Siouxsie and the Banshees--made their appearances, as did a younger generation of artists like New York's Xeno & Oaklander, Montreal duo Essaie Pas, and the Northampton, Massachusetts, group Boy Harsher. Among the more recent crop, one song stood out: Boy Harsher's "Motion." It was, like other songs played that night, dark and driving, powered by stark, acrid synthesis and barreling drums.