Album Review: Jade Hairpins – Harmony Avenue

The sound of pianos open Harmony Avenue, the courageous debut album from Jade Hairpins. They are sharp and direct, implying order amongst chaos and for a minute and fifty-two seconds on opener ‘J Terrapin’, the guitars are piercing enough to tear out the speakers. Jade Hairpins is the new project of Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk of Fucked up fame. Like their parent band, the music is expressive, brash and anthemic but clearly they’re using the project as an opportunity to explore a far wider variety of their interests. From the garage-punk of track one, we’re immediately taken into the disco punk of ‘(Don’t Break My) Devotion’, with its four to the floor rhythm. A clear stylistic choice here, Jade Hairpins make it clear quickly that this album is not a typical one.

In this era of multi-influence music, bands can often push themselves to draw from far too many of their favourite artists. The end result is often a muddy combination that never truly reaches the heights of each individual genre. Jade Hairpins avoid this by wearing their influences on their sleeves but not to the extent that it interferes with their vision for music that is ultimately playful at its core. Where ‘(Don’t Break My) Devotion’ takes the sound of early LCD Soundsystem, album stand-out ‘Yesterdang’ owes much to the pop sensibilities of Talking Heads. It is an uplifting, affirming piece of music that immediately invokes the colours of sunshine, the daylight shining through the syncopated guitars and you’re carried through the regrets we all seemingly have about the days that came before.

The album continues in this style, jumping from the dance-inspired-drum-machine-back rhythms of songs like ‘Post No Bill’ and ‘Truth Like a Mirage’. These are songs with one eye on bouncing fields of festival revellers, gazing cross-eyed at the band as they ring out the extended dance freakouts over the baying crowds. Closer ‘Motherman’ is of particular hallucinatory quality, with its outra drawing the listener into a sense of rhythmic bliss, the bounce of the Aphex-like bassline providing the structure behind the musical experimentation.

Where Jade Hairpins shine is in their more poppy experimentations. As with ‘Yesterdang’, ‘Dolly Dream’ is a perfect slice of airy lo-fi pop music, with shades of early Toro y Moi thrown in for good measure. The woozy production pulls at you, giving you that sense of confused emptiness that all great dream pop does. This is the sound of a band freed up to mess around with their listeners. Where Fucked Up fans might expect a certain level of experimentation on their records, they are at their core the tradition of punk. Jade Hairpines allows Falco and Haliechuk to step away from these expectations and explore elsewhere. As such, the album exudes the sound of freedom, of musicians playing around and in these rather strange and oppressive times, it is a breath of fresh air to hear music uninhibited by external assumptions.

Review by Alexander Sarychkin

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