Thursday, June 25, 2009

Harlem Shakes

This will be a better year. Make a little money, take a lot of shit, feel real bad and get over it.

Harlem Shakes, like lots of bands who catch instant buzz, are indeed taking a lot of shit. But if they truly practice what they preach, these guys can take it. Their lyrics are filled to the brim with optimism, so all you Pitchfork snobs can rain on their parade as much as you want. I don't think it's gonna phase them.

I'd liken them to Los Campesinos! in their unbridled dancey-rock energy. But while Los Campesinos! fill their lyrics with dark irony, Harlem Shakes are sincere about being upbeat. While I certainly enjoy listening to my fair share of the brooding and ominous, it's nice to have such a warm reprieve. Giving the Shakes a closer listen, you realize that the optimism isn't born out of naivete, but from surviving the rough patches and asserting a "half full" attitude. As they sing: "Somehow pop just feels so fair/ in this tangled, injured air."

But sheer positivity isn't enough to make good indie pop. Luckily, these guys can really craft a tune: folk influences, synth blares, plucky pianos, Afro-Caribbean drumming, all poised and ready to attack. Technicolor Health doesn't feel like a first-effort full-length album, it's polished and impressive, and has a brightness that perfectly suits the impending summer.

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