Single Review: Harper ‘Feel So Hollow’

 

Harper. Image: Luke Weall
Harper. Image: Luke Weall

In comparison to Harper’s previous release, Drawing Blood Blues EP, the single, ‘Feel So Hollow’ offers a markedly more downtempo and sultry listening experience. The lyrical motif of spiritual ennui that permeates the song is matched by the languid, seething guitarsand the measured propulsion of the rhythm section. The languorous pace of the track emphasises the effect of every guitar bend and drum fill, making them feel more protracted and intense in their textural weight.

In a recent interview with Rock Britain, Broadbent discusses the stylistic motivation behind ‘Feel So Hollow’, “With ‘Feel So Hollow’, there’s still that desire to sound ‘live’ for want of a better term, but we wanted to add a new dimension to our sound, hopefully throwing in something that people might not have expected’’. Evidently, Harper want to avoid being incarcerated by the formulaic constraints of the indie genre and are alternatively relishing the freedom of the process of artistically evolving as a band.

First and foremost, Harper are a ‘live’ band, having gigged extensively across London and Essex in the last six months. In this context, it is possible that ‘Feel So Hollow’ has a functional purpose in the band’s setlist, quelling the whirlwind velocity created by the other tracks, slowing things down to provide the audience with the chance to loosen up and have a cheeky dance.

Primarily, the song may present itself as a rather minimalistic and restrained composition, but it serves to showcase the band’s progressively mature and subtle approach to melodic development and dynamics. In essence, it is an undeniably professional, polished demo and efficaciously enough, since its release, it has received airtime on radio stations all over the country, even basking in some transatlantic exposure.

However, ‘Feel So Hollow’ was not recorded at fancy London studio at an exorbitant cost. In fact, it was self-produced at the drummer’s home studio, naturally allowing the band the autonomy to experiment with various effects and textures and add a new dimension to their sound. The reverb saturation of the track is an exquisite touch, submerging the listener into a monochromatic post-punk space, which is punctuated by the swelling existentialist angst of Broadbent’s lyrics, ‘I want to find your brand new soul/ I feel so hollow right now/ Don’t you wanna give it a home’.

The promo shot of the band taken by Luke Weall (featured above) has palpable similarities to Anton Corbijn’s famous photo of Joy Division stolidly walking through the tunnel of Lancaster Gate tube station in 1979. Following on from this, it is rather intriguing to examine the way in which Harper reinterpret the post-punk sound from the late 70s and early 80s for the post-apocalyptic pop era, adding an alternative blues twist that has repeatedly, and perhaps reductively, been described as redolent with the musical approach of Arctic Monkeys.

Released at a time when Harper had just begun to penetrate the consciousness of the London music scene, ‘Feel So Hollow’ marks a salient milestone in the band’s career so far. The single demonstrates the band’s musical maturity and impressive capacity for DIY production and promotion, but I suspect, not quite the realisation of their full potential.

Here’s a link to the new single which is available as a free download:
http://harperband.bandcamp.com/track/feel-so-hollow-2
and a link to their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HarperBandUK

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