Album Review: Harlem – ‘Hippies’ (Matador)

Album Review: Harlem - 'Hippies' (Matador)


Fed up of over-thinking? These chorus-happy garage-rockers will blow your mind clean

This Texan trio’s self-released debut [b]‘Free Drugs’[/b], pretty much sounded like a bunch of kids taking loads of gak and fucking around in their parents garage at 5am. On [b]‘Hippies’[/b], the Austin boys celebrate a new deal with Matador by groggily embracing adulthood, armed with an unhealthy but honourable stash of squidgy black and hundreds of obscure [b]Phil Spector[/b] records to rip off.

Lazy, subtonic London beats provide salacious bedding for their [b]‘Raw Power’[/b]-era [b]Stooges[/b] shtick. The band’s major plus point lies in the fact they know how to pen seriously good choruses, and with any luck that’ll set them apart from the comparisons with the likes of [b]Black Lips[/b] and [b]The Strange Boys[/b] that’ll no doubt dog them as soon as tales of [b]‘Hippies’[/b]’ brilliance seep out.

There’s 12 amazing, singalong beauties here. The chorus on opener [b]‘Someday Soon’[/b] lasts for the entire length of the song, which is actually genius. Why don’t they all do it?! They do it again on [b]‘Number One’[/b]! It works!

Meanwhile, singers [b]Michael Coomers[/b] and [b]Curtis O’Mara[/b] effortlessly spit out messed-up melodramas sung as earnestly as any of Phil’s protégés, but deal with unwholesome subjects such as toothless hitchhikers, three legged dogs and living in a graveyard. True, their Tycoon Of Teen obsession is pretty obvious, but it’s more a puppyish want or need to replicate than some wanky art-school homage. The band are smart enough to know they don’t need to fully understand their Spector influences. They just realise that a great melody is all you need. From the killer riff that opens [b]‘Gay Human Bones’[/b] to the surf-rock chorus of [b]‘Tila And I’[/b] and [b]‘Spray Paint’[/b]’s ska-lite-heavy guitar line, they’ve got them in spades.

[b]‘Hippies’[/b] is an uncomplicated, brilliant LP about what it’s like to be young, stoned and having A REALLY GOOD TIME while not coming across like you’re a complete tool.

[b]Matt Wilkinson[/b]

[i]What do you think of the album? Let us know by posting a comment below.[/i]

Click here to get your copy of Harlem’s ‘Hippies’ from the Rough Trade shop