It is telling that Hairball, the new album from UK rockers Nai Harvest, only took one full listen to become a constantly recurring incitement, returning as it wished and dominating thoughts for the following hours. Subsequent plays only reinforced its initial impact and confirmed that the album is one intoxicating feast of fuzz punk.
There is much more to the sound of the Sheffield duo of Ben Thompson and Lew Currie than fuzz though, a healthy mix of psyche and indie rock, with Brit pop spicing, adding to the tantalising sound fuelling the contagious songs within the pair’s second album. It is a flavouring also markedly distinct to that which lit up the band’s previous album and releases. The sonic uproars which coarsely fascinated from within 2013 debut album Whatever and the more mellower fuzzily charmed sounds of the following year’s Hold Open My Head EP, have evolved into magnetic devilments of indie/pop rock riots flavoured further by the sonic mixed spiced mentioned earlier. With ease the new album overshadows the band’s previous impressive releases, presenting a creative and aural coming of age which is nothing less than irresistible.
Recorded with producer Bob Cooper (Sky Ferreira, Citizen) and released via US label Topshelf Records, Hairball instantly has ears and attention beaming with opener Spin. Enticing beats converse with just as alluring guitar enterprise to start the song off, their unity a sunspot of temptation expanded by the sonic colouring and vocal incitement provided by the guitar and voice of Thompson. The constant beats of Currie pulsate within the subsequent vivacious shuffle of the song, the pair breeding a rousing clamour of melodic punkiness and pop catchiness which has as much of a Ramones hue to it as it does a Teenage Fanclub or Strokes whisper.
The excellent start is swiftly surpassed by Sick on My Heart, the track an immediate onslaught of thumping rhythms and melodic jangles roared over by Thompson’s ever beguiling delivery. Feet and emotions are quickly ignited by the energy and virulence of the fuzz fuelled adventure, with its hazy air as incendiary as its pop punk nature is fiery. Its majestic incitement is followed by the slightly more restrained All the Time though the rhythmic provocation from Currie is just as punchy and anthemic. The track has appetite and emotions recruited quite early on but it is the twists into unpredictable and imaginative exploits which really sets it alight and has ears over excited.
Both the groove lit Drinking Bleach and the nineties hued Melanie keep things irresistibly bubbling, the first exploring a muggier sonic climate with a more reserved energy across its evocative canvas. Its successor is a glorious kiss of melodic tang and fuzzy tempting, vocals and beats aligning to bring a bit of an edge to what is a superb pop song. Its hooks are sharp and inescapable, enterprise spicy and lingering, but mostly the song is unbridled infectiousness which simply enslaves within seconds.
A new recording of previous single Buttercups steps up next, its tempestuous hazy presence once more overwhelming bait to get greedy over whilst next up Ocean of Madness from a great rhythmic beckoning, saunters through surf rock meets Brit pop seduction with what feels like a Manchester bred swagger. Both songs leave a want for more, a need fed by the raucous revelry of Dive In where again addiction forging hooks and psyche permeating grooves cast a creative hex which returns whenever it pleases whether in a hum, swing of the gait, or a badly delivered croon.
Gimme Gimme finds a simple seventies pop welcome in its infectious dance, though it is soon immersed in thick melodies and anthemic tenacity courtesy of Currie’s swings and the always richly enticing tones of Thompson. The song’s pungent call has to make way for the closing triumph in the album’s title track. Hairball is just sonic seduction, its initial gentle stroll and melodic flames alone an unstoppable tempting whilst the Weezer-esque air adding to the fuzz fest of persuasion simply enriches the distinct character of the encounter. Unpredictability again has a big part in the strength and potency of the song whilst everything you would want in a pop or rock song is on offer, but combined with a unique resourcefulness and creative mischief it all blossoms in to even greater alchemy.
Hairball is one colossal epidemic of fun and contagion from a band hitting a new thrilling pinnacle. Not much more to add really.
Hairball is out now through Topshelf Records @ https://topshelfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hairball
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