Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Harrys Gym - What Was Ours Can't Be Yours (Splendour)


Norwegian 4-piece Harrys Gym (that is not a grammatical error, well it is but not in Norway and they are sticking with their native apostrophe rules) release their second album, What Was Ours Can't Be Yours, at a time when the world’s so bloody messed up even the birds and fish are chucking in the towel and giving life the finger. This is perfect for Harrys Gym because there’s a constant atmospheric chill around WWOCBY that should make everyone from graduates in the dole queue to your Dad moaning about the price of fuel feel an affinity with the Nordic indie sulkers.


Front woman Anne Lise Fr√łkedal sounds A LOT like Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan. Back in 2005 she would have shone through as an angel-voiced ethereal songstress. Now, she is projecting her fragile honey tones into a market packed to busting with pretty girls singing in a soft folksy drone. It’s not bad, it’s just boring.


Other band members Erlend Ringseth (keyboard), Bjarne Stensli (drums), and Ole Myrvold (bass) are a little more interesting in their style. The songs on WWOCBY vary in genre. Beat-driven first track Old Man, cries out for re-mixing from the likes of Skream or Gold Panda. There is much to be enjoyed in the goth-folk of Mountains and Siouxsie Sioux-esque, Next Time. The Visitor uses tribal drumbeats reminiscent of Kate Bush’s The Dreaming, but with Toothpaste HG veer into middle of the road easy listening reminiscent of the band nobody

wants to be compared to, Keane.


If you can dismiss the filler, parts of this release are captivating. But dips into Nineties electronic-indie (think Everything But The Girl, or Snake River Conspiracy) and dull soft rock tracks, reveal HG’s dated maturity. There is a current prevalence of indie bands clutching at both a teenage sound and aesthetic, Harrys Gym are not doing this. This doesn’t make them bad, it just highlights their slightly dated sound. Like one grey hair on a mane of lush black. They’re the sort of thing you could put on whilst your Mum was over in the faith there would be no swearing and she might even say, “Oh this is nice, reminds me of Clannad/Enya/Annie Lennox.” (Delete as applicable). I thought I was bored of tracks about the beach, teenage boyfriends and riding bikes in the summer, but apparently I’m not ready for music this age appropriate just yet. Too many days spent listening to Wavves, Vivian Girls, and BYOP have turned my ears age discriminating bastards.


Words : Maya Boustany

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