Release Date: Mar 24, 2009
Record label: Gigantic
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Harlem Shakes’ 2007 Burning Birthdays EP was a brief but brilliant sampling of sunny, sure-footed pop that promised plenty of possibilities for this Brooklyn-based band. Now, a year and a half later, all that potential pays off on the group’s first full-length, Technicolor Health. “Nothing But Change Part II” opens the album in a fevered frenzy of pop parts held together by Lexy Benaim’s slyly clever lyrics and an obvious abundance of exuberance all around.
Rock critics being the shallow pontificators we are (going into detail doesn’t pay the rent), some will inevitably point to the most surface-level element of the Harlem Shakes as a source of criticism: their name. The band kept the moniker from a previous incarnation used when they were more in the club scene, and on their debut LP, Technicolor Health, they play a brand of indie pop that inevitably will appeal mainly to white kids. Of course, that problem never really hurt the Atlanta-based Of Montreal, but while both bands swiped the names of areas largely populated by a historically disenfranchised ethnicity, the Harlem Shakes named their band after a place where the oppressed group happened to create the music that was swiped at very the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll.
Brooklyn's Harlem Shakes debut full-length album Technicolor Health fulfills all the promise of their 2007 EP Burning Birthdays and justifies all the buzz built by their live shows. Unfortunately, this happens on the album's first two tracks; the rest of the album is nice enough but pales in comparison. "Nothing But Change, Pt. 2" is a joyous, rollicking tune that brings in a horn section, handclaps, and a vocal chorus to bolster Lexy Benaim's fragile vocals.
The cover of Technicolor Health, the debut full-length from New York's Harlem Shakes, depicts a rainbow over a desolate city street in a serious state of disrepair. Power lines wilt, trees teeter, telephone poles tilt, and chunks of broken down buildings spill onto the sidewalks. But has the rainbow beam come to the rescue, or is it responsible for the destruction? No doubt the Shakes, with their brand of today's fashionable guitar pop sounds-- a fusion of folk, global-pop, and good ol' fashioned indie rock-- mean to project the former interpretation.