Release Date: Apr 28, 2015
Record label: Top Shelf Records
One major misconception commonly ascribed to two-piece bands is that they have to adjust to their limitations. Sheffield pop-punks Nai Harvest can easily confuse with only a cursory listen, the result of two friends who play together with such synergy that you’d only figure they’re a two piece if you see them play live. What’s most impressive about Hairball, their second full-length, is how they don’t abuse of heavily distorted trickery to make themselves sound larger than they actually are.
Nai Harvest don't waste much time getting down to business on their second album, Hairball. The first track, "Spin," shows that guitarist/vocalist Ben Thompson and drummer Lew Currie have done a couple of things this time: they increased the power of their squalling sound and learned a thing or two about writing songs. Their previous efforts were energetic, loose, and scrappy emo pop that by the duo's own admission were more like parts of songs jammed together than tunes that had an organic flow.
Reinvention is part and parcel of the Nai Harvest ethos, their kaleidoscopic approach to music revealing a new side with each and every release. With second full-length ‘Hairball’, they’ve gone full on bombastic - opener ‘Spin’ is Glastonbury headliner material, barrelling into view with the kind of arms-aloft euphoria lifted straight from a midsummer’s evening. Cavernous drums back a plea to know “what the weather’s like in your mind”, and it’s clear from the off that Nai Harvest’s answer is “sunny as fuck”.
Nai Harvest’s Hold Open My Head EP saw the Sheffield, England, duo move away from the fuzzy Cap’n Jazz-isms of their debut, Whatever, toward a more extroverted, streamlined rock informed by all the right alt touchstones. In the British rock sort-of-tradition of switching things up with each release (see Blur, Ride, etc.), their new album, Hairball, finds singer/guitarist Ben Thompson and drummer Lew Currie already moving on. Recorded with Manchester-based producer Bob Cooper, Hairball holds on to the band’s less-is-more math while reaching for more instant hooks.
Limbs and anatomical hearts scatter across the kaleidoscopic artwork for Nai Harvest’s sophomore album, Hairball. On paper, that may sound gory, but paired with bright colors and flowers, it becomes an energetic and exciting image. It’s about as apt a summary of the band’s evolution as any. In the two years since their debut album, Whatever, the Sheffield, UK duo infused their fuzzy basement punk with bigger hooks and livelier melodies.
Nai Harvest are one of the most underrated acts around at present. 2013's Whatever had a very intriguing mathy-emo feel to it which made 2014's Hold Open My Head that much more interesting as it moved into a '90s sludgier-pop vibe. All in all, you sensed how well this two-piece could duck in and out genres while still maintaining a rich essence and overall, a thick, vibrant sound.
Every new release from Sheffield's Nai Harvest brings up the question of what exactly the duo will turn their attention to this time around. It's not that Ben Thompson and Lew Currie haven't decided how they would like their band to present itself, but more like they feed off the energy present in their music and just can't keep still. They burst onto the scene with debut LP Whatever in January of 2013 and let that propulsive record push them forward to bigger and brighter things, namely inking a deal with US indie stalwarts Topshelf Records and releasing the Hold Open My Head EP, whose four tracks dispensed with the twinkly emo of their debut for crunching power chords and a more refined aesthetic.
It's natural for any band to feel the need to alter their sound incrementally with each album to avoid wearing themselves out, and with their latest LP, Hairball, Sheffield duo Nai Harvest have done just that. Here, the duo trade their signature '90s emo twang and melancholic riffs for raucous, hyperactive garage punk jams that hardly stop to catch their breath. While the frequent changes in pacing found on older material added layers of complexity that are missing here, Lew Currie's relentless drumming remains intense and impressive.
Like pretty much every band linked to the "emo revival" of the past several years, Sheffield duo Nai Harvest has tried to talk their way out of it. In an interview from last year, guitarist/vocalist Ben Thompson shrugged, "I don’t want to be picked up as an emo band in 2014 and then thrown on the floor when it’s not a trendy thing to like or talk about anymore. " The connotations and stereotypes behind that term are still a contentious hot topic (no pun intended), so it's in their best interests to keep a distance.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up ….
Nai Harvest — Hairball (Top Shelf)Flash back to the late 1990s in New York City, when traces of Britpop and hardcore awkwardly collided. The love for The Smiths and Morrissey among hardcore types is a long and well-documented one, though blending hardcore (or even post-hardcore) with the more melodic strains heard in songs from the likes of Blur, Oasis, and others was a difficult balancing act. You could hear traces of it in the sound of Texas is the Reason, whose members were resolutely musically omnivorous.