Harker – Gasping for Air

It’s clear from the opening three bars that this neat little two-track seven-incher from Brighton’s Harker takes a lot from that modern Americana guitar music aesthetic. Call it Gainesville sound, call it emo, you know where you are with this. Sitting stylistically somewhere between the sainted Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music, with the odd passage of play deep in Against Me’s territory, this is heart on the sleeve stuff – all emotional honesty and carefully slack instrumentation. This has such a transatlantic feel that if you close your eyes and listen to this you could be sat in Loosey’s or one of the smaller venues at this year’s Fest. And Harker could be a bright prospect from Georgia just signed to Paper and Plastick.

Now. If the term “derivative” had any real meaning in these our post-everything, gestalt-core days, then there are those that might call this derivative. Certainly, this doesn’t take matters down any mad or avant garde new musical alleys. But that isn’t the point of this kind of music – and therein maybe also lies its charm. This is well-constructed, undeniably winsome, and both tracks deliver their lyrical and musical hooks with a pleasing pop-like precision. This also has the sense to not hang around, with the mean track length being almost exactly three minutes. And the refrains and hooks keep playing in your head for much, much longer than that.

If you’re looking for progression and grit in your neo-emo, maybe look elsewhere. But if you are looking for some of the leading UK exponents of the style – and if this is your thing, then this will hit the spot.

– DB Schenker

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