Release Date: Feb 18, 2014
Record label: Stars & Letters Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Dream Pop
Shocking Pinks' mix of lo-fi indie pop and electronics arrived a few years before chillwave became a household word, and the fact that Nick Harte was largely absent during the years that style peaked only added to the feeling that he was ahead of his time. It took him seven years to follow Shocking Pinks' 2007 self-titled album (which was compiled from two albums released in 2005), but Guilt Mirrors ends this musical drought with a deluge inspired by an earthquake. A triple album crafted during and inspired by the 2011 earthquake that devastated Harte's hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand, Guilt Mirrors is a murky and mercurial reflection of life after a disaster.
It's been seven years since Nick Harte's stunning breakout album as Shocking Pinks reached the world via his eponymous DFA release. After three albums on New Zealand indie labels, including the esteemed Flying Nun, that were cherry picked for the aforementioned DFA compilation, Harte pretty much disappeared. The Kiwi musician is making up for lost time on Guilt Mirrors, which despite being originally intended as an EP, is being released digitally as a 33-track triple album and spans a daunting two hours and 40 minutes.Musically, Guilt Mirrors is all over the map in the best possible way.
Bedroom recorder Nick Harte has the uncanny ability to magically appear when it is assumed he’s not needed. It’s been seven years since we last heard of the prolific-yet-reclusive Kiwi, whose future once looked bright when his DFA-supported self titled compilation earned him some well-deserved acclaim. Shocking Pinks offered a wider glimpse into his homespun approach, servicing a mostly shambolic set of silvery indie pop that was splashed into an asperous surface.
Seven years after DFA released a compilation of songs from his previous two Shocking Pinks LPs, New Zealand-based singer/songwriter Nick Harte is putting it all out there on a triple album that clocks in at two hours and 40 minutes. The DFA comp found Harte shifting from his dance-punk beginnings toward a bleary, depressing dream pop world full of violence, vulnerability and reverb. Its production showcased a resolutely DIY sensibility that - though polished - made the songs sound on the verge of falling apart.
Nick Harte of Shocking Pinks crafts inconsolable, dejected no-fi electro-pop that stresses the isolation of being a “bedroom artist” rather than the intimacy. His isn’t the sound of heartbreak or losing a job; Shocking Pinks are the sound of being awake at 2 a.m., clicking through Monster.com and OkCupid profiles, wondering if both pursuits are utterly hopeless and if you're going to sleep in until noon again tomorrow. So when a guy like this takes seven years between albums, you have every reason to be worried.
Ever taken a lot of speed and stared at the sun for half an hour until the cells of your corneas cracked? This is what listening to Guilt Mirrors can do to a person. It’s happening right before and behind your eyes, and it’s too big and horrible and painful to really get to grips with straightaway. You have to talk around it. This is as immune to description as the sun.
Considering how there was a collective gasp with the news of Arcade Fire’s Reflektor being a double LP, anything longer than 40 minutes seems to be nothing more than musical onanism on the part of the artist these days. Nick Harte – AKA New Zealand’s Shocking Pinks – is evidently unaware of this unspoken expectation. Endless bedroom recording sessions since the release of his last album back in 2007 have resulted in a stockpile of eight albums worth of material, three of which make up this release.