Jade Hairpins - Harmony Avenue (Merge Records)

Jade Hairpins – Harmony Avenue (Merge Records)

Jade Hairpins are something of a supergroup, comprised of Fucked Up drummer Jonah Falco and songwriter/guitarist Mike Haliechuk. They sneaked onto the scene in late 2018 with a mysterious 12-inch on Merge Records and a couple of poetic sentences about hiding in trees. The label remained tight-lipped while touting Dose Your Dreams, a new Fucked Up album released on the same day.

What’s initially striking about the record is that it doesn’t have the hodge-podge identity crisis that a lot of side-projects embody Harmony Avenue storms out of the gates fully realised. Opener ‘J Terrapin’ is a real mission statement clocking in at 120 seconds it’s a kaleidoscopic tour de force- the best Of Montreal song Of Montreal haven’t released for the best part of a decade. It’s Anglophilic (Falco has adopted London as his home) peppered with Eno-isms, sounding modern and timeless while never feeling like pastiche.

Falco describes the sound as “straddling the post-post-punk of something like New Order, Scritti Politti, and Orange Juice, with a primordial sense of humour and absurdity not unlike Ian Dury and the Blockheadswhich to some extent makes Harmony Avenue sound like something of a retro exercise. It isn’t. What it does incredibly well is assimilate these very period-specific influences with electronic landscaping to make for an immensely textured and immediate listen.

‘Father Coin’ perhaps one of the more obviously trad. Numbers on the record is saturated in harmony in a way that recalls some of the more psychedelic end of the Elephant 6 roster. ‘Dolly Dream’, with its syncopated rhythms, feels like a 33rpm Blue Nile record being played at 45rpm. ‘Post No Bill’ utilises the Tom Tom Club grooviness that James Murphy has been dining out on for the best part of two decades. Closer ‘Motherman’ flirts with the hyper-melodic electronic textures that Super Furry Animals utilised so well, though in a way that feels eminently contemporary.  In as much as there are magpie tendencies to the record, it never feels incoherent.

Harmony Avenue feels like an absolute labour of love, two friends bonding over records of their formative years and writing a love letter to a very specific period of time. What’s additionally special is that in doing that Jade Hairpins has a life and identity of it’s own and like it’s big-hearted forbearers should soundtrack parties and car journeys. A record for bonding over.

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